Is America Realizing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream?

Jan 15, 2004

(Washington, DC) - House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair James E. Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in Congress, today issued the following statement on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday:

"As our nation pauses to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., on what would have been 75th birthday, I think we must ask ourselves how much progress we have made toward the dream he extolled 40 years ago. 

"Would he embrace No Child Left Behind when schools he fought to integrate languish without the state and federal assistance to improve the quality of their academics, faculty or facilities?  Would he celebrate health care advances when so many middle and low income Americans don't have access to them due to a lack of affordable health care or meaningful prescription drugs benefits?  Would he extol the opportunities and protections afforded the wealthiest among us when many can't earn a living wage or find a job?  Would he applaud the legal challenges to affirmative action after having less than 30 years to remedy 300 years of institutionalized discrimination? 

"I dare say this was not the America that Dr. King envisioned when he paid the ultimate sacrifice to insure all American's enjoyed our nation's promise of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'  There is significant work to be done if we are to realize that dream. 

"Unfortunately, America finds itself under the increasingly hostile leadership of those who don't believe in justice for all but for the privileged few.  His birthday should be a day of reflection for the people of this nation and those who lead us.  As we remember the teachings of Dr. King, we should all try to emulate the spirit of his words and deeds."

#   #   #