Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s Vision – and continuing the fight

Brothers and Sisters,

Ray Curry

UAW President Ray Curry

On Monday, we celebrate the great sacrifices and life-changing contributions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  His vision was one of inclusion, of nonviolence, of respecting the rights of each and every one of us and championing the fact that we are all Americans.

So on this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’d like to recognize that here at the UAW, we have continued to build on his great legacy. We have picked up the mantle this gone-to-soon Civil Rights giant left for us and we have worked diligently to continue and advance the strides that Dr. King so heartfeltly made when he and our iconic leader President Walter Reuther were marching shoulder to shoulder in our nation’s Capital. The UAW, from our earliest days, has been a frontline fighter for civil rights and we can all be very proud of that legacy and what we have achieved together.

However, as far as we have come, we know that we have further to go. We know as Dr. King knew, our journey is not completed and the torch must be passed on. There is still darkness that we must light. Today, more than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, we are seeing a staggering assault on the fundamental right of every citizen to have a voice in our elections. I can think of no other way to describe this effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans, much of which is aimed at communities of color, than SHAMEFUL.

But like those who sacrificed in decades past, I see this as yet another round in a fight to the finish. Last year, at least 19 states passed upwards of 33 new laws that restrict access to voting and more than 440 bills designed to restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states. These numbers are staggering – and frightening.

So, we fight on for this most fundamental of rights. The UAW, through our CAP department, is pushing back hard at local, state, and national levels. We have supported the House-passed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would make it harder for states that have a history of racial discrimination to change their voting practices. We have endorsed the For the People Act, passed by the House and filibustered in the Senate. This measure expands voting participation by allowing same-day and automatic voter registration and makes Election Day a national holiday. We support the Freedom to Vote Act, which would end partisan redistricting, ensure sound election administration, and fix our broken campaign finance system.

The best way our UAW family – and our Congress and elected officials – can honor Dr. King’s vision and the good fight we have been fighting these many years is to advance measures like these. We’re in this for the long haul to protect our voting rights, to safeguard our democracy and to advance freedom. I want to remind us all, that despite setbacks, roadblocks and delays, we will take a page from Dr. King’s book and never, never stop fighting for what is right. I call on our elected officials to stand with us to defend the fundamental principles that this country was founded upon.

I want to wish all my brothers and sisters a wonderful Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and encourage all of us to keep Dr. King’s vision in our hearts.  I look forward to the victories ahead.

In solidarity,

Ray Curry