Martin Luther King Jr.’s children criticized Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell for saying during his victory speech that their father’s March on Washington speech inspired him.
The Associated Press called Kentucky’s Senate race for McConnell on election night. He defeated Democratic challenger Amy McGrath — marking his seventh term in the Senate. His standing as majority leader, however, remains uncertain as it’s unclear which party will control the chamber.
He referenced King during his victory speech Tuesday night.
“When I witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington speech as an intern back in 1963, I dreamed about doing big things to help my state and our country,” he said during the speech.
The prominent civil rights leader, who was assassinated in 1968, delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — calling for an end to racism and for civic and economic rights in the United States.
Kings’ daughter, Bernice King, responded to McConnell’s reference Tuesday on Twitter.
“But my father’s dream was to create the #BelovedCommunity, in part by eradicating #racism, #militarism and #poverty,” she tweeted. “Certainly not by denying #healthcare to human beings or by separating Brown immigrant children from their parents.”
Martin Luther King III, King Jr.’s son, also objected to McConnell’s reference.
“Mitch McConnell has had the opportunity to bring police reform & voting rights legislation to the floor of the Senate for months,” he tweeted Wednesday. “If he was truly inspired by my father, he would join the fight to eradicate racism through policies that aim at creating peace, justice and equity.”
In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to restore the racial discrimination protections included in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, The New York Times reports. McConnell, however, has refused to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote despite pressure to do so from Democrats following the death of Rep. John Lewis, a champion of civil rights, in July, The Hill reports.
This isn’t the first time King’s children have criticized references to their father.
In October, Bernice King spoke out against President Donald Trump for using her father’s image in a campaign advertisement, calling it “beyond insulting,” McClatchy News reported.
“My father should not be used in ways strongly misaligned with his vision and values,” she tweeted.