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More than 50 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's fight for voting rights continues

Communities of color continue pushing, still confident change will come and sweeping legislation will be passed.

TAMPA, Fla — After the 2020 election, 19 states, including Florida, passed stricter voting legislation.

Now, President Biden and other lawmakers are pushing for a law to counteract restrictions. Community leaders believe this fight parallels the battle fought just 57 years ago.

"If this legislation is enacted and implemented we will go a long long way to making the American dream a reality," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said during a press conference on July 5, 1963. 

While continuing his fight for equality in America, he pushed for Congress to pass civil rights legislation.

"The tragedy is, we have a Congress with a senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use this filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting," Dr. King said.

Fast forward to 2022 and the fight for new voting legislation continues.

"My father did not let up for a moment and neither have we," Martin Luther King III, a human rights activist, said on the holiday marking his father's birthday.

He's a part of the group calling on legislators to pass stricter protections for voting rights. 57 years later, communities of color vow not to stay silent.

"In the past couple of years, we have regressed, so I understand what the family is saying. I have a level of frustration when it comes to voting rights being stripped," said Yvette Lewis, president of Hillsborough County's NAACP chapter.

She says sweeping legislation must be passed by any means necessary.

"We need to make them do it. Dr. King back then was told not to do it, but he made them do it," Lewis said.

Dr. King's Selma to Montgomery March for equal voting rights and other protests helped fight for not just Blacks, but Latinos and Native Americans too.

"MLK was fighting for everyone. Every single citizen in this country to be able to be recognized," said Eliseo Santana, president of LULAC Pinellas said.

The organization advocates for the Latino vote. Even now years later, communities of color are still confident change will come. They won't give up.

"We have come along the ways in what we did when they were marching for civil rights, which was the ability the right to register to vote. We have that right. We're now fighting for the essence of being able to cast that vote that we've earned," Santana said.

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