The niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is claiming U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren pulled the “race card” in denouncing Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s choice for the next U.S. attorney general.

On Feb. 7, Warren took to the Senate floor to voice her opposition to the nominee, quoting from a 1986 letter written by Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King in which she criticized Sessions, who was then running for a judge’s bench.

This photo provided by Armstrong Williams shows Senate Judiciary Chairman Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., posing for a photo with Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and then Thurmond staffer Armstrong Williams, right, in this undated photo. A letter sent by Coretta Scott King saying Jeff Sessions would be a bad choice for a lifetime federal judgeship is receiving new attention after Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rebuked Feb. 7, 2017, for quoting King's letter on the Senate floor.(Armstrong Willams via AP)

This photo provided by Armstrong Williams shows Senate Judiciary Chairman Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., posing for a photo with Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and then Thurmond staffer Armstrong Williams, right, in this undated photo. A letter sent by Coretta Scott King saying Jeff Sessions would be a bad choice for a lifetime federal judgeship is receiving new attention after Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rebuked Feb. 7, 2017, for quoting King’s letter on the Senate floor.(Armstrong Willams via AP)

But niece Alveda King said Sen. Warren, in citing her aunt’s letter, was playing into the nation’s bitter past to advance her ends.

“It’s almost like a bait and switch, stir up their emotions, use the name King — and my name is Alveda King — stir up people’s emotions play the race card, which she was attempting to do,” King said, speaking on Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” She added, “If you look at my aunt Coretta Scott King’s letter, you could tell she was a peacemaker. Her intentions were never to divide during her whole life.”

Alveda King went on to say she believed while her aunt might have referenced some of Sessions’ questionable comments, she also would have acknowledged the senator’s previous efforts to end school segregation and prosecute members of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Aunt Coretta was a very reasonable women and she, with integrity, would have noted that he had done some great work in fighting against discrimination,” she said.

Warren’s decision to read Mrs. King’s letter made national headlines after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell censored her statements by invoking the obscure  Rule XIX, which states that Senators should not “impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

At issue was a line from King’s letter that read: “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by Black citizens.

“I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate,” Warren said after she was ruled in violation of the rule and disbarred from speaking.

Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” McConnell said of his reasons for silencing his colleague. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Several Democratic senators stood in solidarity with Sen. Warren, reading portions of the same letter on Tuesday night and on Wednesday.

“The idea that a letter and a statement made by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. … could not be presented and spoken about here on the floor of the Senate is, to me, incomprehensible,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in his remarks from the Senate floor. 

According to reports, hundreds of protestors also gathered outside McConnell’s Kentucky home and read Mrs. King’s letter in which she outlined her objections to Sessions. A similar protest was reportedly planned for outside his Washington, D.C. abode.
King’s letter, which was posted online by The Washington Post, can be read here.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO