From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

January 15, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 75th birthday:

"Today we celebrate the 75th birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. And this weekend, we honor his life and legacy. Dr. King challenged the conscience of our country and affirmed our dearest values. He lived his life in the belief that 'liberty and justice for all' is not just a pledge, but a fundamental principle that must guide us as a people.

"Because of Dr. King and the millions of ordinary Americans who fought for civil rights, our country has made significant progress. The National Urban League’s 2003 report on the State of Black America reveals that more black families have joined the middle class and that the number of black businesses is increasing. Census Bureau figures indicate that African Americans are graduating from college in greater numbers.

"While celebrate those successes, we cannot rest. As Dr. King said more than 40 years ago at the 1963 March on Washington, we must 'remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off….Now is the time to make justice a reality for all God’s children.'

"Democrats believe that now is the time to end the national disgrace of one in five children living in poverty; more than 30 percent of these children are African American.

"We believe that now is the time to create jobs for the 9 million Americans who are unemployed but want to work. The African American unemployment rate was in double digits for all of 2003, and that is simply unacceptable as we begin a new year.

"We believe that now is the time to provide a quality education for every child and to fully fund initiatives that students need to succeed.

"And we believe that now is the time to protect our great democracy. In Texas, Democrats are fighting the redistricting plan that will undermine the Voting Rights Act for minority Americans all across the country.

"Dr. King challenged us. Let us honor him by building a country of opportunity that values our beautiful diversity, where all people have the chance to realize their God-given potential. Dr. King lifted our hearts, he improved our lives, and he called on us to live up to our beliefs. Let us all commit to building an America that makes 'justice a reality for all of God's children.'"





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