Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the introduction. Thank you for the opportunity to join with all of you, my fellow citizens, on this very important day. The Lieutenant Governor and I consider ourselves very honored that we have the privilege to serve with all of you, especially in these important times in our country’s history. It’s a great honor to be with you on this day in recognition not only of the remembrance of the date of the death of Martin Luther King, but more importantly of the life, the vision, the dream, the beauty and the gift that was and is the spirit of Dr. King.
Of all the great truths he spoke during his 39 short years, I find myself turning to this one. He said, “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of the men and women willing to be coworkers with God.” On this day 40 years ago, the life of Dr. King was taken by the bullet of an assassin. And yet four decades later, the cause he worked so hard to defend presses on in his spirit and his vision, the urgency of the work for which he called our country presses on.
I was about five years old when Dr. King was assassinated. I don’t have many vivid memories of him when he was living. I do remember, still as a boy, my father once saying to me that when the great public figures of this age are long forgotten, Dr. King will still be remembered.
There are still too many in our state and nation who lack the opportunity to improve their own lives, to raise their families in dignity and in the light of an open society. There are too many young lives lost at the hands of drug dealers and drug peddlers; too many lives tragically taken from us because of violence; too many children who go to bed at night hungry, who go to school hungry. Now more than ever we need to hold true to the life and spirit of Dr. King. More than remembrance, ours is a responsibility of action, when there is no place in our state for quiet injustice. Unbroken in the last 40 years has been the vision he proclaimed for our nation of individual dignity, of community, and of opportunity for all.
Today we remember in the name of love that there is more that unites us and divides us, and as one people we rededicate ourselves to the hard work, the tireless effort of building a better and stronger state and a better and brighter tomorrow for the next generation. Thank you all again.