King himself spoke in some detail about the way the filibuster was being used to block progress on civil rights.
It has become clear that only a significant escalation of nonviolent civil disobedience on the scale leading up to the Selma-to-Montgomery March will create the level of pressure necessary to pass voting rights legislation.
Elected officials have even joined in civil disobedience, most notably, state legislators from Texas who faced threats of arrest after breaking quorum and coming to Washington to communicate the need for federal action.
Soon after, following the lead of their chair, several other members of the CBC were also arrested, as was I. Moreover, it’s worth noting that it was another CBC member, Rep. Cori Bush, who led perhaps the summer’s most successful act of civil disobedience, sleeping on the steps of the Capitol to demand action on the eviction moratorium.
What’s needed is an escalation of civil disobedience on three levels: first, in the number of cities and counties where actions are taking place; second, in the frequency of actions; and third, in the level of disruption involved in such actions.
In the case of the filibuster, there may not be a sign in the Senate rules that reads “Negroes Only,” but a review of the filibuster’s history suggests that no single issue has been the subject of filibuster more often than matters of civil rights.
The archaic, Jim Crow-era filibuster may not be top of mind for every Black American, but the ways it has been used to impact our most fundamental rights, from voting to our even more basic right to live, represents an existential threat that more that justifies the tactics of civil disobedience.
There are some who will say that such a call to escalate civil disobedience in support of voting rights is extremist.