Monday, January 19, 2009

Legislators reflect on what MLK Day means to them

Always a significant and somber day of reflection at the Capital, legislators on the House Floor marked MLK Day by passing a resolution honoring the civil rights leader, and celebrating his legacy.

Rep. Bob Hasegawa, who represents the 11th LD, spoke to us about the struggles still ahead in reaching true equality for all:
"Kids in elementary school today are learning
about Martin Luther King, Jr., his life and struggle are in books all over the world. When I was that age we didn’t have an African American hero anywhere in the school curriculum. We’ve certainly come a long way even though it really hasn’t been that long. Some folks take for granted the lessons of the Civil Rights movement and see it as a done deal, but I believe there’s a lot of work still to be done. Equality and justice have not yet reached everybody. Race and poverty are still intertwined; that’s an undeniable reality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a fighter who never gave up. Let us honor his memory emulating his example; let’s continue fighting relentlessly to make sure his dream is not forgotten or left to collect dust in the pages of a book."
Rep. Phyllis GutiƩrrez-Kenney from Seattle also reflects on the victories, and victories yet to be won:
"As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, may his life serve as a reminder to all of us that we must continue fighting oppression, intolerance and violence to become a nation whose citizens truly care for each other. Let our commitment to his ideals of equality, justice and freedom not falter. We cannot afford to become complacent. Whether one is African American, Latino, White, Asian, or other, it is important to build on Dr. King’s dream by working together. The fact that tomorrow is the inauguration of our first African American president is yet another piece of evidence that Dr. King’s struggle was not in vain. We still have a ways to go in order to reach his dream but I am hopeful that together we will get there."
When asked what the work of Martin Luther King Jr. meant to them, Rep. Flannigan from Tacoma had this to say:
"It was Dr. King and those who inspired him and were inspired by him that expanded the American heart to include all colors in America’s rainbow. President Obama is Dr. King's legacy. Wow."
And Rep. Larry Springer from Kirkland:
"Dr. King inspired a nation to recognize and listen to the better angels present in us all, which even today continues to change the face of America."

Watch the entire day's floor action, including the resolution commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. here.