Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Mark Emery Udall

Source: 2001 Congressional Record, Vol. 147, Page E62 (January 30, 2001)






Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

America is a country of many faces and we take pride in our nation's diversity. America is known as the "great melting pot" because it has welcomed many people from all over the world to share in living the American dream. Unfortunately, reality is often different than the dream for many Americans.

The reality has often been ugly. Segregation was a blight on our nation that deprived millions of people equality in this country and was often used as a tool to oppress people and keep them from living up to their full potential. The system kept many people in the shackles of poverty. America needed a bold leader who, despite hardships and violent attacks, would continue to fight for justice.

In 1955 frustration at the system of segregation boiled over in Montgomery, Alabama when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white passenger. She was consequentially arrested. Her act sparked a citywide boycott of the bus system by African-Americans that lasted more than a year. The boycott elevated an unknown clergyman named Martin Luther King, Jr., to national prominence and resulted in the end to segregation on city buses. Dr. King continued to promote peaceful protest and inspired a generation of Americans to work to end segregation and to fight for equality. His dedication to the cause of ending a broken system and bringing America's reality closer to the dream won him the Nobel Peace Prize and empowered many Americans.

But his work is not done. Barriers to racial equality must still be torn down and many hearts still need to be healed. We cannot let Martin Luther King's work go unfinished; we have not reached the mountaintop yet. Even today, ethnic minorities, women, gays and lesbians, the disabled and others are often treated as if they are second class citizens. This must not stand. There is no reason why our nation, which prides itself in being the home of the free, should continue to treat people unequally. It is time to make the dream fully real. We must challenge ourselves to reach across divides and embrace and celebrate our nation's diversity. We as a country and as a people will be stronger because of it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).