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In Austin, some celebrate MLK Jr.'s legacy with voting rights rally at Texas Capitol

Indivisible Austin is demanding voting rights legislation and fair access to ballot boxes this year.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, one local organization hoped to honor his life and legacy by hosting a rally in support of voting rights at the Texas Capitol.

"This year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are focusing on action and service," wrote the organization, Indivisible Austin, in a press release for the event. "Dr. King’s family: Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, and Yolanda Renee King – along with faith leaders, civil rights leaders and voting rights advocates across the country – have called for us to focus on demanding voting rights legislation and access to the ballot box this year."

The group is demanding for elected officials to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

"We need to send a message to our leaders: no celebration without legislation," the group said.

In addition to calling for legislation, Indivisible Austin also encouraged members of the community to bring cold weather gear to be donated to people experiencing homelessness nearby. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler also released a statement on Monday referencing the legislation moving through the U.S. government. His statement can be read in full below:

“Today, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy: to bring justice where there is injustice, freedom where there is oppression, peace where there is violence, and opportunity where there is poverty. He pushed us to see each other, recognizing that we are 'caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.'

“Even as we celebrate his day, we are living in one of the most divisive moments in our history. Partisan fights and misinformation are driving us apart. They divide our community, state, and nation on vital issues ranging from voting rights and the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to how we provide a meaningful and equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s up to us to rise above and stand in the face of this division and misinformation and create institutional and generational change, like reimaging public safety to better keep all people safe and feeling safe.

“And while we are making great strides together on the path to social justice, equity and inclusion, we must recenter ourselves. That is what today is most about, recentering ourselves to achieve Dr. King’s better vision. We need to return to Dr. King’s core philosophy of the 'Beloved Community.'

“We have real significant challenges today. But it is also essential for us to touch on the achievements and successes because that work deserves celebration.

“I’m proud to be part of a city that is tackling homelessness and one that will house 3,000 individuals in the next three years. Homelessness at its core is a race issue because 40% of this community is African-American.

“Austin is one of the lead cities in the country piloting universal basic income. We are a city building our infrastructure with not only an equity lens but equity action, including $300 million as a part of Project Connect to ensure we specifically address the gentrification and displacement that is otherwise often a part of such public projects.

“Dr. King’s legacy calls for us to be introspective. His Beloved Community teaches us that through this reflection, we can create meaningful action to reach a global vision of a brotherly society.

“We need to continue to channel his legacy and call out injustices when we see them. We also need to hold up a mirror and ask ourselves what actions we can take today and tomorrow to honor Dr. King. Have the hard conversations, be bold, and accept the challenge to make a society for all.

“Have a great Martin Luther King Jr. Day!”

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