In this March 25, 1965, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King, lead off the final lap to the state capitol at Montgomery, Ala., as thousands of civil rights marchers joined in the walk to demand voter registration rights for blacks. A new project launched in March 2020 by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a coalition of foundations seeks to bring online, interactive lessons about Selma and voting rights to students who are home from school due to the novel coronavirus. AP file photo

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family will honor the late civil rights leader today by demanding action on federal voting rights legislation.

King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III; his wife, Arndrea Waters King; and their daughter, Yolanda Renee King, are leading a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington at 10 a.m. before joining the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Peace Walk urging the Senate and President Joe Biden to enact federal voting rights legislation.

“MLK Day has always been a day on, not off. When we call for ‘no celebration without legislation,’ we’re not urging Americans not to honor this day — we’re asking people to honor Dr. King through action to protect the right to vote,” Martin Luther King III, chairman of the Drum Major Institute, a nonprofit started by his father, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We’re directly calling on Congress not to pay lip service to my father’s ideals without doing the very thing that would protect his legacy: pass voting rights legislation.”

The King family, civil rights leaders, students and other activists have long called for lawmakers to expand and protect access to the ballot. Protesters marched in the nation’s capital all summer, including some who were arrested at demonstrations, and rallied in August at the annual March on Washington to bring attention to voting rights.

Those demonstrating on Monday say they are honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by continuing his fight for voting rights as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have introduced and passed restrictive voting legislation. Those GOP efforts were spurred by false claims of widespread voter fraud from former president Donald Trump and his allies.

Voting rights advocates have pushed back, demanding federal voting protections to counteract state-level restrictive voting laws.

“My grandmother said ‘every generation has to earn its freedom,’ but I want my generation to secure freedom for all those that come after us,” Yolanda Renee King said in a statement to The Post. “This is our moment to rise up and protect our voting rights. Young people have always been at the forefront of change, and we won’t stop pushing until we get this done.”

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