Stevie Wonder sends strong message to senators on voting rights: 'Do the hard work'

Stevie Wonder is sending a strong message to senators on voting rights, a day after the country paused to remember civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

In a video message posted to social media, the musician told senators to "cut the bull-tish" Tuesday as the Senate takes up House-passed voting rights legislation, breaking Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's initial deadline to vote on a rule change by the Jan. 17 holiday.

"Any senator who cannot support the protection of voting rights in the United States of America cannot say that they support the Constitution,” Wonder, 71, said. “Stop the hypocrisy."

The vote in the Senate as been delayed, with Schumer citing a weekend winter storm and Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz's positive COVID-19 diagnosis for the hold-up.

Without Schatz, Democrats don't have the 50 votes needed for a simple majority vote. The passage of a voting rights bill remains stymied by Republican opposition and Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who stand opposed to changing the Senate's rules to pass the law without GOP support.

Wonder continued: "If you care and support our rights, do the hard work. You can’t please everybody, but you can protect all of us. And to keep it all the way real: The filibuster is not working for democracy. Why won’t you?"

Voting rights and equality were at the top of many minds Monday — and celebrities did their part to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

More: King family rallies in Arizona for voting bills for MLK Day

Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan support The King Center with free lunches from Black-owned food trucks

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan offered support to Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, Bernice King, and staff and volunteers with The Martin Luther King Jr. Center, who put on several community events in Atlanta for the holiday.

The couple, now based in California, provided free lunches from local Black-owned food trucks during the organization's service projects, which included voter registration, an education drive and a speech from Rev. Bishop Michael Curry, who spoke at Harry and Meghan's wedding in 2018.

"Your care matters so much to those here to register and educate voters and collect items for our homeless neighbors," The King Center tweeted, thanking Harry and Meghan for their donation.

More: Prince Harry wants Archie, Lilibet to visit U.K. if he can pay for police protection

Pharrell Williams calls on businesses to invest in people of color

Singer and music producer Pharrell Williams challenged corporate America to "do more" by supporting entrepreneurs of color and adopting economic equity measures.

In remarks Monday during the Urban League of Hampton Road's annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards program, Williams said that while there is still much more work to be done to achieve "anything that resembles equality," business are "catching on" and investing in people of color – at least some businesses are.

"Not all businesses," Williams added. "The smart ones — the ones that will be here in 50 years."

Williams singled out the Japanese financial and venture capital group SoftBank. He said the group was investing in founders of color, who could then create generational wealth and change their cities for the better.

Williams, who was born in Virginia Beach, also urged businesses and philanthropists to support the Urban League and thanked the local chapter for their work in financial wellness, health and housing.

The event, which could not be held in person because of COVID-19, was livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Several local leaders were honored for representing King’s legacy of social justice.

Contributing: The Associated Press; Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLK Day: Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams talk voting rights, equality