January 18, 2015

Congresswoman Lee Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Calls for Action

Oakland, CA – In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released this statement commemorating his legacy and calling on all to work for a equal America for all:

“Each year we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recommit ourselves to realizing his dream of equality and justice for all.

As we reflect on Dr. King’s work, I am reminded of his April 14th, 1967 speech at Stanford University: “The Other America.”

He said: 'there are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful for situation. And, in a sense, this America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity…. tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair.'

Fifty years after Dr. King led thousands of civil rights foot soldiers from Selma to Montgomery, our nation has made significant progress. 

Legal segregation has ended.

America's first African American president is serving his second term.

In Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus accounts for nearly a quarter of the House Democratic Caucus and includes twenty women. 

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for African Americans has declined seven percent.

Yet, there are those that want to turn the clock back. Voting rights are under attack; the unemployment rate for African Americans is more than twice the rate of their white counterparts and there remains bias, injustice and institutional racism in our criminal justice system.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder again opened the door for voter discrimination, racial-motivated redistricting and active voter suppression. Tragically, House Republicans refuse to bring up bipartisan legislation to restore and protect the sacred right to vote. I join with the Congressional Black Caucus in calling on Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader McCarthy, and Majority Whip Scalise to make restoring the Voting Rights Act a priority.

As Dr. King said at Stanford University, ‘We must come to see that social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals.’

Dr. King was one of those dedicated individuals. Let's today commemorate Dr. King and all that came before us by working on community service efforts."

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


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