WASHINGTON — The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was commemorated on Aug. 28. Following are statements marking the occasion from Asian Pacific American members of Congress.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Fifty years ago, Americans joined on the National Mall to peacefully stand up against intolerance and injustice. Together, they and the world witnessed as a preacher from Georgia stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared his dream of an America where his four children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.
“Dr. King’s message of freedom, justice and liberty for all has inspired countless people over the decades, and we will always recognize how the march furthered the push for landmark legislation like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
“Although today is a proud day to recognize how far our nation has come, we must acknowledge how much work we have left to fully realize Dr. King’s dream. One of our first steps of many must be to protect one of our country’s most fundamental freedoms — the right to vote. We can’t hesitate to restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court this summer. We must also ensure the 11 million undocumented people living in the shadows can participate in our society without fear.
“While there are many unresolved injustices left to face, I know that we can achieve much if ordinary people in Hawaii and across the world continue to march in their own ways to build on the work of leaders like Dr. King, Rep. John Lewis and many others involved in the march half a century ago.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told the world of an America he dared to dream of, where equality replaced injustice in our society. Hundreds of thousands of men and women from every corner of this country stood at the Lincoln Memorial to hear him share that dream – a dream we continue to strive for and build upon today.
“As we mark this anniversary, we must commit to preserving all that Dr. King and countless others in the Civil Rights Movement achieved. The erosion of the Voting Rights Act by a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, and the continued efforts to impose voter ID laws threaten the rights of every American to exercise their voice in our democracy.
“While these events make clear that Dr. King’s dream is not complete, we are reminded on this anniversary of the profound impact he and the March on Washington had on this country.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose): “Today, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Dr. King’s dream that children of all races will play together. Today, we also celebrate the progress we have made in our fight for justice with a commemoration by our first African American president. I feel the need to pass along my favorite MLK quote … The fight for justice and equality is not over, and it will never be easy.
“‘There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but must do it because conscience tells him it is right.’ — Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Today I join millions of Americans in honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Since that day when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, our nation has made great progress in ensuring social and economic justice for all Americans; however, there is more work to be done. We must all work together to ensure that ladders of opportunity are available to every American. Only then will Dr. King’s vision be fully realized and will our nation live up to its promise and ideals.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Fifty years have passed since the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out his dream for our nation. It is a dream of equality, where people will be judged on the content of their character, and for no other reason. Today, in 2013, Dr. King’s dream lives on and the struggle continues …
Watch the full speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRIF4_WzU1w
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in a crucial moment of the Civil Rights Movement. Hundreds of thousands of men and women lined the National Mall and embraced Dr. King’s dream for an end to racial segregation and discrimination in the United States. The bravery of those who held peaceful sit-ins, participated in rallies and demanded change paved the way for a better and more equal America.
“As we mark this anniversary, we must recommit ourselves to preserving the victories of the Civil Rights Movement. Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation for civil rights, was unconstitutional. This decision puts all of our rights in jeopardy and endangers the most sacred piece of our democracy, the right to vote.
“Whether it’s protecting voting rights, providing equal rights to the LGBT community, or making sure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives, the work to complete Dr. King’s dream is far from finished. Nevertheless, 50 years ago today, Dr. King’s words inspired us to know that change is possible and I look forward to continuing that struggle.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “Fifty years ago today, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a historic speech that would resonate beyond the National Mall to the rest of the nation, forever changing the civil rights movement. He spoke out against the dangerous racism that plagued our country and gave momentum to a change in our society that continues today.
“His message, one of hope and tolerance, reminds us that the fight for equality is far from over. Dr. King preached acceptance for all, and unfortunately we still do not live in a world where all men and women are equal. The best way that we in government can honor the legacy of Dr. King and those brave marchers is to carry their lessons into our work every day, so that their dream can become a reality in every community.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Rancho Cordova): “Today we remember the strength and dedication demonstrated by community members and leaders at the March on Washington as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
“I want to share this great story from NPR with you about singer Mahalia Jackson as a reminder that a little encouragement and support for our friends can go a long way. http://www.npr.org/2013/08/28/216141088/for-kings-adviser-fulfilling-the-dream-cannot-wait