Students and faculty at Antioch College in Yellow Springs protested Wednesday the treatment of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by reading the 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King that Warren attempted to read on the Senate floor Tuesday before being barred by her colleagues.
King is a 1951 alumna of Antioch College and in a 1986 letter expressed her opposition to the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, as a federal district court judge in the southern district of Alabama, according to Antioch College. Sessions’ judgeship nomination was unsuccessful but he is now President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general.
Warren, a Democrat, was barred from speaking by her Senate colleagues to read the letter on the chamber floor, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said impugned the character of her fellow senator.
Luisa Bieri, a participating faculty member, said the reading was critical for “people around the country to understand the gravity of the situation.”
“It’s alarming for all of us that this happened right in the heart of our democracy in our senate,” Bieri said.
The director of the Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom at Antioch College in Yellow Springs released a statement Wednesday about the treatment of Warren in the Senate.
“What happened on the Senate floor yesterday eerily resembles the sentiments expressed in Mrs. King’s letter,” Mila P. Cooper, director of the King Center and Antioch vice president for diversity and inclusion said in a statement released Wednesday. “It is a travesty against her legacy and what she fought for, especially women’s rights. By silencing Sen. Warren, Republican senators also essentially silenced the voice of a civil rights pioneer and champion.”
The center applauded Warren for “speaking to the soul of our nation” by attempting to read King’s letter on the Senate floor.
“We rebuke any and all attempts to silence women,” according to the statement from the King Center. “And we encourage all women to continue to use their voices to demand equality and justice.”
King, the widow of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died in 2006. The building on the campus of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, is the only building in the nation named after Coretta Scott King, according to the college.
The college plans to celebrate its famous alumna’s 90th birthday on April 27 with a gala and some awards. Mark Reynolds, director of marketing and communications at Antioch College, said the gala will introduce the community to the center as a place that promotes social justice and diversity.
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as U.S. Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the 1986 letter. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
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