President and ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, it is with mixed emotions
that I stand before you today not so much in celebration, but in remembrance of
the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr.
reawakened bitter memories and the anger I felt as a 19-year-old, when it was
blasted all over the news about Dr. King being murdered back in 1968.
I had to
wrestle with my memories:
can’t forget segregation, Jim Crow Laws; lynchings; economic, social,
political, health and educational disparities.
can’t forget the police brutality; the 16th Street Baptist Church
where the four little Sunday School girls were bombed and murdered by the KKK;
the beat down of those marchers who tried to cross the Edmond Pettis Bridge in
Selma, AL, where John Lewis, now a Congressman, had his skull fractured; and
Dr. King’s House being bombed by the KKK with his wife and children there.
can’t forget going on a civil rights tour with the RI State Council of
Churches; and being in that house, where Dr. and Mrs. King received 40 to 60
death threats a day; and how he went to the kitchen one night to pray, as he
wrestled with leaving Montgomery and bowing out gracefully from the bus
boycott; and returning to Atlanta.
can’t forget being in that kitchen as the curator told how Dr. King prayed at
the kitchen table was filled with the Holy Ghost and heard a voice: Martin Luther stand up for truth; Martin
Luther stand up for justice; Martin Luther stand up for righteousness. God gave him the strength and he continued in
I want to rip off the old scab with past memories of injustice?
I want to torture myself with the knowledge of current disparities in education,
housing, economics, health care, including the lack of minority judges in our
I really want to remember hatred directed toward me? After the hearings on the gun bills, I
received an unsigned birthday card with a scripture (my birthday is in
October), that called me a racist, bigot, hiding behind religion, and a
hypocrite. I have received several such
communications over the years.
I really want to remember how Dr. King was hated by many, but now after his
death he is recognized as an American hero and a prophet who is now loved and
I choose to remember this 50th Anniversary is Dr. King’s epiphany in
the kitchen, where his faith overcame his fear; and he followed the heavenly
call to stand up for truth, justice and righteousness.
civil rights movement was a spiritual movement with people coming together to
pray and march who were black, white, and from many faith traditions, rabbis,
ministers, priest, etc. A white minister
from Boston was beaten to death in Alabama.
We need that type of spirituality today, not all this division and
want to remember how in the face of great adversity and violence, people in the
movement remained non-violent!
want to remember that “justice too long delayed is justice denied;” and that
“injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”
I will remember that the civil rights movement was a spiritual movement and
many people, black and white, from many faith traditions prayed and marched
will remember Romans 12: 21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with
will remember the words of Jesus in John 13: 34-35, “A new commandment I give
unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one
another. By this shall all men know that
ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
this cosmic battle between good and evil, let’s not forget but remember that
the arc of the universe is bent toward justice.
And more than just a remembrance, we must remain committed to truth, justice,
righteousness and love.
President I move the resolution.