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Congresswoman McCollum's Remarks at the State Martin Luther King Day Celebration

January 23, 2014

[Remarks as prepared]

Friends, I’m honored to gather with you today to remember and celebrate a monumental figure in our nation’s history. At a time when America was fractured by racial and political tension, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped to bring Americans together to work for justice with a message of hope, reconciliation, and nonviolence. He lived his life through his quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…whatever affects us directly, affects all indirectly." He challenged this nation to face down the economic injustice and inequality that blocked access to the American Dream for so many of our neighbors. He saw an America that wasn’t living up to its full potential and worked to confront injustice wherever it reared its head. Despite his incredible progress, today, this work is not finished This month also marks the 50th anniversary the national War on Poverty. This struggle, so inextricably tied to the civil rights movement and the work of Dr. King, continues. Education, employment, and health disparities are still present, and in some cases growing. The persistent poverty in our communities, particularly in communities of color, demands action. Americans want us to move forward together to restore the emergency unemployment benefits that provide a lifeline for the long-term unemployed while they are seeking work.
Americans want us to move forward together to increase the federal minimum wage, and bring nearly 30 million Americans closer to a living wage for their work. Americans want us to move forward together to pass bipartisan, comprehensiveimmigration reform that will bring security and stability for families across our nation.
And Americans want us to move forward to repair and expand the VotingRights Act
If we, as a society, want to move forward together, then there is no better inspiration than the man we gather to remember today.
Allow Dr. King’s quote to serve as a daily motivation for all of us still struggling to conquer repression and inequality. Thank you.