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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY


January 15, 2018
[~ 3 min.]

I am honored to be here to pay tribute to Dr. King, his work, and his dream.

Over 50 years ago, Dr. King declared that, "A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that
which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses
to take a stand for that which is true."

He preached those words from a pulpit in Selma, Alabama -- after 600 courageous and non-
violent marchers were brutally attacked and tear-gassed by Alabama state troopers and local
police after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge – protesting the denial of voting rights to
African Americans. That day was later called “Bloody Sunday.”

Dr. King’s dream was that we would emerge from the battles and marches of the Civil Rights
movement as a better nation. He and others fought and sacrificed so that African-Americans
and people of all races and backgrounds could live together as equals.

Today, thanks to Dr. King and other leaders, our children grow up believing that no one should
be judged on the color of their skin. And that everyone deserves an equal opportunity for a
bright future, no matter their background.

That is what we teach at home and at school. It’s what we preach in our houses of worship. And
it is what we celebrate across our nation on Martin Luther King Day. And that is why when
anyone – especially the President of the United States – uses racist or derogatory remarks.
Implies that some people have more value than others. Or preaches that some groups deserve
better treatment because of their racial or ethnic heritage -- then we must stand up. We must
make it clear that we will not tolerate racism. And that we will not accept hate.

The majority of the United States -- and the world -- was appalled this week by the president’s
remarks.

But we also must make it clear that we will not be dragged down. We will not be divided. The
lesson we are learning now is that -- more than ever -- we must come together and rise up
against hatred and bigotry. Live the words by our former First Lady Michelle Obama, “When
they go low, we go high.”

We must cross bridges – like the marchers in Selma. We must protect our nation’s
DREAMers. They, too, have a dream.

I am confident that everyone here – and millions across our nation – have the courage Dr. King
talked about that day in Selma. And I am confident that -- with folks like all of you – we will, in
the end, fully realize Dr. King’s dream.