Congresswoman Barbara Lee Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 17, 2014
Contact: Carrie Adams (202) 225-2661

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

"This month, we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, we must remember one of Dr. King’s most passionate efforts: ridding the country of poverty, creating opportunity, and ensuring that everyone in this country, regardless of race, gender, or circumstance, can achieve the American Dream. He said himself, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

“In 1964, Dr. King worked tirelessly with community leaders, fellow clergy, and President Johnson alike to ensure that the War on Poverty lifted people from the ranks of the poor, had a bridge over troubled water in the form of Food Stamps, and had job training in the form of Job Corps, along with dozens of other initiatives, programs, and legislation. Let us not forget the the values that created the Great Society, those values are same today: that in America, we care for the vulnerable and ensure that no one falls through the cracks. Dr. King’s March on Washington, let us not forget, was for jobs, for good paying jobs. We continue that struggle today.

"But, as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are also reminded of how far we have come. President Obama’s re-election re-affirmed our shared beliefs that we should all have access to health care, that women have the right to choose, and that we must enact comprehensive immigration reform, and our obligation protect social security and social safety net.

"Despite this progress, we cannot forget how far we have to go. With racial discrimination still present, health disparities, and countless obstacles, 46 million people are living in poverty, the African American unemployment nearly double the national average, and violence plaguing our streets, and a endless war in Afghanistan, we must remain vigilant in our fight for justice and the need for comprehensive efforts to combat institutional racism in this country. Let us rededicate our lives to the pursuit of civil and economic equality, peace and non-violence.

"This weekend, we are reminded those who have gone before us, and the sacrifices that were made. We honor them by committing ourselves to action on the National Day of Service. We thank them, for it is their shoulders on which we stand."

For information about the National Day of Service and volunteer opportunities in your community visit: www.serve.gov.


Follow Barbara Lee on Facebook and Twitter at @RepBarbaraLee. To learn more, visit lee.house.gov.

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.