Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is calling on Americans to work for an equal America as the nation celebrates the birthday of the late Martin Luther King Jr.
Lee said in a statement:
“Each year, we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recommit ourselves to realizing his dream of equality and justice for all.”
Lee said when she thinks about King’s work she is reminded of a speech he gave at Stanford University in 1967. King said there are two Americas, Lee said. According to King’s speech, one “is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and honey of opportunity.”
The other America “constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair.” Lee said the nation has made progress on civil rights since King led thousands on a march from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago.
Lee cites the end of legal segregation, the reelection of America’s first African American president and the reduction in the percent of uninsured African Americans since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. She also said there is work to be done and people that want to turn back the clock.
A recent Supreme Court decision could result in voter discrimination, racially-motivated redistricting and voter suppression. In addition, the unemployment rate among African Americans is more than twice that of whites and bias, injustice and racism remains in the American criminal justice system.
As King said at Stanford, Lee wants to remind others that social progress is not inevitable, but results from individual’s tireless efforts and persistent work.