Congressman Cohen Statement Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 14, 2022
Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) plans to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Saturday, January 15, and the Federal Holiday and Day of Service in his honor on Monday, January 17, by encouraging everyone to dedicate themselves to his call to “let freedom ring.”

Congressman Cohen voted for, and the House of Representatives passed, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last year, and again on Thursday. Congressman Cohen urges the U.S. Senate to pass the measure in the days ahead to protect those rights to which Dr. King devoted a lifetime. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and its commemoration as a federal holiday, are an opportunity to contemplate what might have been and what yet may be. Earlier this week, President Biden visited the King tomb in Atlanta before reminding our country about the critical importance of protecting voting rights. With echoes of Dr. King, President Biden encouraged the Senate to get on the right side of history. Unfortunately, it appears that two Senators don’t share Dr. King’s dream of assuring voting rights. Martin Luther King III, Dr. King’s son and the heir to his legacy, said: ‘History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly. While Senator Sinema remains stubborn in her ‘optimism,’ Black and Brown Americans are losing their right to vote.’ President Biden also reminds us that King was a multi-dimensional figure in history – fighting poverty and militarism, along with systemic racism and bigotry – and said pointedly ‘don’t celebrate his birthday unless you’re willing to support what he lived for and what he died for.’ The birthday Saturday and the national holiday we commemorate on Monday are times for quiet contemplation that should spur us to action.

“In his day, King was the conscience of the nation, teaching us the true meaning of character, fairness and justice. His dream inspired a movement that continues to demand real change. The past year’s concerted effort to curb voting rights at the state level shows just how far from his dream we have strayed. We can continue to work to eliminate poverty, end unfair policing practices, ensure better access to health care, protect voting rights and assure the right of workers to organize. Let’s renew our promise to strive every day to meet Dr. King’s aspirations. As he said in Memphis the night before he died, ‘We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.’”