“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King
Ms. King’s words are being embodied in heroine Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who ruffled the feathers of Republicans during a Senate debate concerning the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judge position. Senator Warren read part of a letter the late widow of Martin Luther King Jr. penned to Senator Thurmon in 1986. In it, King made a plea to block Sessions from being confirmed as a federal district court judge in the Southern District of Alabama. The letter pointed out the harm that Sessions would inflict on her late husband’s civil rights work and legacy, as well as the abuse of Session’s power in his attempts to intimidate elderly black voters. Warren was interrupted as she quoted Ms. King’s words by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Citing a violation of rule 19, McConnell insisted during the meeting, “the senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama.” Warren appealed, but was ultimately forced to discontinue her entire speech and was told to sit down. According to the New York Times and other news outlets, McConnell said of his objection to Senator Warren’s reading the letter, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Indeed she did, and I’m so very grateful. While I am still in mourning over Hillary’s lost battle (she has not lost the war) at least Elizabeth Warren is in our court, fighting the good fight.
While it was bad enough to hear the news that Warren was silenced by Republicans at the Sessions debate at all, it was worse that it was over her reading of the letter by the late Ms. King. But the timing adds a triple whammy to the blow if you consider that she was silenced for reading the letter during our country’s black history month. Well, this is where we are right now – a time for resistance. A time to persist. Now we must all be women who fight back. Like Clinton and Warren and King whose words ring powerfully true today, we have to become the soul of our nation if our nation’s soul is to be saved.
Despite the fact that she is not permitted to speak further on the Senate floor regarding Sessions, Senator Warren has not ultimately been silenced. She later appeared on Facebook and read the Coretta Scott King letter to an audience of over two million. She told CNN, “they can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth. What Coretta Scott King talked about Jeff Sessions doing back in 1986 is something every American should know about.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, she encouraged all Americans to read the letter that was silenced by the Senate. “It is eloquent, and it reminds us of a time in history that we would like to think is far behind us but reminds us that it is not,” she said.
Here is that eloquent, historical letter in its entirety: