01.16.17

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Oakland, CA - Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

"Every year our nation pauses to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recommit ourselves to realizing his dream of equality and justice for all.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation to rise up against discrimination, injustice, poverty and war. He believed that the most pressing challenges we face could be resolved through peaceful non-violent action. Dr. King also encouraged this country and the world to be relentless in defense of marginalized communities of our society. 

"There is no greater indication that we have realized a substantial portion of Dr. King’s dream, than the successful completion of President Barack Obama’s presidency. As we prepare to say goodbye to President Obama and the First Family, I am reminded of the progress we made under his leadership. 

"We invested in job creation, reducing unemployment from 10 percent down to 4.7 percent today.  We dramatically reduced the numbers of troops overseas – although we must keep working to bring a permanent end to our wars. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, 20 million Americans gained health insurance. And in every state in the nation, marriage equality is now the law of the land. Despite these hard fought  victories of the Obama Presidency, we cannot ignore the challenges that lay ahead.

“In 1967 Dr. King delivered his “Triple Evils” speech, which addressed the issues of racism, militarism, and poverty in our nation. He said, “The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘least of these’.

“Now more than ever we must draw on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to protect the "least of these". With 43 million people living in poverty, the African American unemployment nearly double the national average, and violence plaguing our streets, we must remain vigilant in our fight for economic equality, peace and justice.

“America has faced dark times before, but with hard work and organized resistance, we rose from the valley to the mountaintop Dr. King envisioned generations ago. This chapter in our history will be no different.  Dr. King once said: "A time comes when silence is betrayal."  

“As we celebrate his enduring legacy, let us recommit ourselves to being defenders of our communities, voices for the voiceless – a resistance that cannot be moved.”