Every year, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We honor his struggles. We honor his triumphs. We honor how he stood up to racial injustice. We honor how he fought to bring America one step closer to her founding promise of equality.
Dr. King was the heart and hope of the civil rights movement. His dream both shocked and touched the very soul of this nation. That is why America was nearly torn apart when he was so tragically taken from us. I was a teenager, but I remember. I remember the funeral. The riots. The despair.
Over time, America realized that the killer could kill the dreamer but he could not kill the dream. The killer could kill the fighter, but he could not kill the fight.
And that has been the lesson that Dr. King has passed down to each of us: each and every one of us has the power to change the rules, if we work together.
This moment in history comes to us. We cannot pass it along to someone else. It comes to us. We must act. We must fight back. Because this fight is a righteous fight. We come together today to remind ourselves and the rest of the world what we are fighting against – and what we are fighting for.
So let’s say some hard truths:
First, bigotry and discrimination are on the upswing in America.
It’s time to call it out and fight back. We believe in basic dignity and respect for EVERY human being. We will tackle bigotry and discrimination head on, wherever and whenever it occurs.
Second, economic opportunity is growing for those at the top, but it is shrinking for everyone else.
It’s time to call it out and fight back. We believe that every person in this country – regardless of race, creed, or economic background – every person in this country deserves a fighting chance to build a future for themselves and for their families.
And that goes straight to the third truth: race matters.
It’s time to call it out and fight back. The path to economic security is steep and rocky for millions of working people in America, and it is steeper and rockier for Black and brown Americans.
When we ignore that fact, when we turn a blind eye, then we don’t move this nation toward greater equality. And all of us lose when we allow the powerful to use race as a tool to divide us. We will not stand silently by and be a party to perpetuating discrimination for another generation.
And another: “Equal Justice Under Law” is more than a catch phrase.
It’s time to call it out and fight back. The days when our criminal justice system grinds up black people and destroys communities of color must come to an end. We need criminal justice reform – real reform – and we need it now.
And just one more hard truth: People of color have been systematically denied the most basic American right – the right to vote.
It’s time to call it out and fight back. We need a constitutional amendment establishing an unquestioned, unassailable, nationally-recognized right to vote – and right to have that voted counted – for every American citizen.
Call it out. Then make change. Real change. Structural change. Honest change.
It comes to us. It’s going to take each of us doing what we can, where we can to create a better, fairer, more prosperous, and more just America.
That’s what Dr. King called on us to do. That’s what the urgency of this moment requires us to do. And that is the way we will make Dr. King’s dream a reality for all.
Thanks for being a part of this,
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