"40 Years After That Horrible Day in Memphis"
Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. released the following statement today as the nation begins commemorating the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 40 years ago on April 4th.
"In April of 1968, Dr. King was organizing a 'Poor Peoples' Campaign' on the moral basis that every American had a right to be fed and live in dignity, free of debilitating poverty. He insisted that hunger and poverty were immoral. He said the legal separation of the races in restaurants, restrooms, drinking fountains and transportation was immoral. In Selma, Alabama of 1965, he marched to end the immoral practice of limiting African Americans' voting rights. In Chicago in 1966, he said segregated housing was immoral and economically absurd. He said the people of the world had a right to live in peace with justice, and the money we were using to maim and kill in Vietnam ought to be used to heal and reconcile in America.
"Forty years after that horrible day in Memphis, Dr. King's insistence that America choose the moral high ground in all of its affairs is still relevant. Like Dr. King, we are living in an era of economic insecurities, voting irregularities and a poorly executed war's absurdities. We must return our focus to Dr. King's moral vision of America. Not just what it was. What it can still be.
"We must resist the pressures of the political center, and insist upon leaders who govern from the moral center. I don't mean some moralista's ideas about personal behavior. I mean the life-affirming ideals that have moved America's heart, mind, soul -- and laws.
"This is a time to remember that Dr. King gave a speech declaring, 'I have a dream,' but he was no idle dreamer. He was a human rights and social justice leader. I've long said that Dr. King was not assassinated for dreaming. He was killed for scheming -- for acting in a political way on his dream of social justice for all Americans and peace in the world.
"Dr. King knew that if any American was disenfranchised, every American was disenfranchised. If we did not -- do not -- work together in the broader direction of inclusiveness that he was taking us in, we would all suffer the consequences. I believe that is still true. I believe that we still can't wait. Forty years is enough."