Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rededication
February 28, 2007
Earlier this afternoon, we came together to unveil that beautiful plaque. And on that hallowed ground, we marked not only a rededication – but I hope a renewal. Which I hope is something we go through every February and every time we think of Dr. King.
A renewal to our commitment to advance and secure the dignity of every individual.
Our renewed faith that our diversity truly is our greatest strength.
Our renewed sense of responsibility to expand opportunity to more and more people, realizing that, in fact, we are all in this together. That we are tied in that web of mutuality.
You know 40 years ago, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King reminded America of “the fierce urgency of Now.” He reminded us that “this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now, he said, is the “time to make real the promise of democracy… now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”
I was 5 years old when Dr. King was assassinated. I was not named after Dr. King, thank you though Delegate Benson. I was named after St. Martin de Porres though.
And the most important things I learned about Dr. King, I learned from my father as a little boy before I had really studied him in school or read much about him.
And my father ( I will never forget this) – my father said to me, “as time goes on son, some men of recent history will be remembered less. But this man will be remembered more. And as time goes on, he will become bigger in the consciousness of our people, while other men who were his contemporaries will become smaller.”
And I remember asking, “well why is that, why do you say that, why do you think that?”
And he said, “because this man told all of us that we are good people. And that we serve a loving and forgiving God and that we can be better people. And God sent him to us at a time when our country could have taken a turn in a much worse direction, were it not for this man who understood what love was all about.”
As Delegate Anderson said, there was never anger in his voice. He understood, and he taught our country really, that the arithmetic of mercy is stronger than the arithmetic of vengeance.
And these things I learned from a white man, which I think is also a tribute to the beauty of Dr. King.
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