Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
"As we near the historic second inauguration of our nation's first African American President, I recognize this as a time of deep reflection. This month we commemorate the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington, and a day in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"One hundred fifty years ago this month, President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation legally emancipated millions of slaves across America. While slavery did not finally end until 1865 - 244 years after the first ship bearing African slaves landed at the in the Virginia Colony - this proclamation was an important step bringing us one step closer to a country where "all men [and women] are created equal."
"In 1963, one century after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the country continued to be violently divided and segregated racially. It was in this context that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the Civil Rights March on Washington, and delivered his powerful "I Have a Dream" speech urging -- commanding -- America to move even closer to the ideal upon which this nation was built.
"As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the same day that our nation witnesses the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama, we are reminded of how far we have come. President Obama's re-election re-affirmed our shared beliefs that we should all have access to health care, in women's right to choose, immigration reform, marriage equality and our obligation protect social security and social safety net.
"Despite this progress, we cannot forget how far we have to go. With 46 million people living in poverty, the African American unemployment nearly double the national average, and violence plaguing our streets, and a endless war in Afghanistan, we must remain vigilant in our fight for justice. Let us rededicate our lives to the pursuit of civil and economic equality, peace and non-violence.
"This weekend, we are reminded of the martyrs who have gone, and the sacrifices that were made. And today, we honor them by committing ourselves to action on the National Day of Service. We thank them, for it is their shoulders on which we stand."
For information about the National Day of Service and volunteer opportunities in your community visit: www.serve.gov.