Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. On Saturday, I joined thousands of Americans at the National Action to Realize the Dream March to commemorate the 1963 March and reflect on what that historic day meant to me and thousands of Americans across the country. Below are excerpts of my remarks:
“Fifty years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood here and put into mighty words the hopes, the dreams, the frustrations of millions of Americans, black and white, that the people of this land were not yet fully free – and that none could enjoy the promise of our democracy until all could enjoy it.
“We all know his famous words, the dream he shared of replacing disdain over brotherhood. His speech was a resonating call to action – one that impelled me and millions to channel our own commitment for civil rights into a life of activism for justice and equality.”
“But what calls us here once more was the pronouncement by Dr. King that: ‘1963 is not an end but a beginning.’”
“America today has much to be proud of, in no small part thanks to Dr. King, my friend and civil rights hero John Lewis, and the countless others – many whose names we do not know – who wrote, spoke out, stood up, marched, bled, languished in jail cells, sat-in, and endured what Dr. King called ‘creative suffering.’”
“The historic election of President Obama testifies to the progress we have made – which would not have been possible if not for the millions who sacrificed and raised their voices for change.”
“But we are here, all of us, to declare that we shall not rest, nor shall we be satisfied by the way things now stand.”
Click here to watch the video of my remarks and here for my statement marking the anniversary yesterday.
While we’ve made extraordinary progress, we still have much more work to do to ensure full justice, equality, and opportunity for all, which includes protecting all Americans’ fundamental right to vote. While Maryland’s voting system makes access a priority, many state legislatures across the country are seeking to restrict access to the ballot in a way that disproportionately affects African Americans, Latinos, seniors, and students. I was proud to introduce the Voter Empowerment Act with Congressman John Lewis that would protect against voter suppression, make polling places more accessible, reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission, modernize voter registration, and ban discriminatory practices meant to deter voters from registering or casting their votes. I remain hopeful that Congress will move forward with such legislation so that all eligible voters can cast their ballot and every vote is accurately counted.
As always, thank you for allowing me to share this update with you, and please continue to share your concerns and insights with me by contacting my office or connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.