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Community leaders speak about voter suppression

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, community leaders speak out about the impact that Dr. King had on society, but also the changes that still need to be made.
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 10:41 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Dr. King lead the Civil Rights Movement to end segregation and fight against prejudice, but leaders say the fight is still not over, with laws being enacted that makes it harder for people to vote.

Dyanna Walker is a retired journalist and has worked extensively in the community on many different community issues. Before that, she worked under Dr. Martin Luther King on the Civil Rights Movement as a teenager. “I am saddened because on this day, I reflect on the continuing division that we have in this country....and that is not what Dr. King promoted,” said Walker.

Walker was able to see first hand the changes that King helped to lead, as well as live through them. She says even though things have improved, the fight for equality is far from over.

“We have many scars...because we actually lived through Jim Crow,” said Walker. “When we see some states enacting legislation to impede the progress, I mean, they’re ability to vote.... we see the return of Jim Crow.”

Currently, throughout 49 states, over 400 bills have been created that restrict voting access. Many of these, have been enacted.

“We are being diluted, when it comes to the voting rights, so I want everyone to understand...that we don’t want to be diluted,” said Rockford Region NAACP President Rhonda Greer-Robinson. “We want to be a part.”

Robinson emphasized the importance of people having their right to vote, not only for the president but for positions in the community. She says Martin Luther King Day can help people reflect on the ongoing fight to unite our nation, but also wants to honor the progress that has been made over the past 65 years, since the days of the Little Rock Nine.

“They were in a school 2000 white students, and they were the only black students...and there was 9 of them,” said Robinson. “The way they were treated...education now is totally different, due to what Dr. King fought for.”

Both Walker and Robinson believe that having conversations about our history and why we celebrate MLK day is a start in taking action to continue the fight for equality.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Walker. “In order to be called the United States, we must be united,”

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