What Would Martin Luther King, Jr., Think About Our Nation Today?

Protest in New Orleans, Louisiana
There are many social issues today that Martin Luther King, Jr., would have opinions about.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists [people working to bring about social or political change] fought hard for equality and voting rights for African Americans.

While African Americans have had the right to vote since 1870, many practices kept African Americans from voting. For example, poll taxes, began in the 1890s. These were fees that were charged for voting. They were intended to keep African Americans from voting. These fees were waved for whites if they could prove their ancestors had voted before the Civil War.

On May 17, 1957, Dr. King delivered a speech addressing voting rights. In the speech, he demanded, “Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights.”

The efforts of Dr. King and other activists paid off. In 1964, the 24th Amendment outlawed poll taxes. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 removed many other practices intended to keep African Americans from voting.

Voting rights remains an important issue. Many states have passed laws cutting early voting hours and requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. Supporters of these laws intended to prevent in-person voter fraud, which is when someone impersonates a voter in order to cast a ballot. However, instances of in-person voter fraud have been extremely rare.

The fight for voting and other civil rights did not end in the 1960s. Today, activist groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], Black Lives Matter, and others continue to work for social justice and equality.

What Do You Think? What do you think Martin Luther King, Jr., would think about equality and voting rights today?

Photo Credit: Richard Mittleman/Alamy Stock Photo