News Releases

Remembering Dr. King's Struggle, Murray Calls for Unity to Overcome Challenges

Jan 20 2003

To preserve freedom, we must be united in promoting civil rights, access to college, and support for those in need

(SEATTLE, WA) - At a celebration of Martin Luther King at the Seattle Center today, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray called for a commitment to civil and human rights, access to higher education for all, and to support those who are struggling during this time of uncertainty.

"Today we remember how Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. overcame fear and uncertainty with a call for unity and brotherhood," Murray intoned. "With his voice, he inspired us to live up to the ideals upon which our nation was founded - freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality. His voice calls out to us, as the struggle continues today."

Murray laid out three current challenges, and stressed that unity was essential to overcoming them.

With a move afoot to pack federal courts with conservatives "deaf to the call for civil rights," Murray noted, "our courts must remain a place where every citizen can seek and receive justice under the law."

She committed to promoting diversity and equal opportunity to higher education, declaring, "we must continue to make sure that the doors of opportunity remain open to all Americans, especially at our colleges and universities."

And she recognized that many are facing economic uncertainty at a time when budgets are tight and weighed down with necessary new investments in defense and security.

"We must bear these burdens, but cannot abandon those who are struggling -- especially at a time when we must pull together as one." Murray noted Washington's progressive tradition, and said citizens should be proud for "[having] led the way in promoting tolerance, civil rights, human rights, and respect for others. We look out for one another, especially in times of need."

Murray cautioned that in uncertain times, "some may sow the seeds of division." But, she concluded, "Just as in Dr. King's day, we must not let fear undermine the values, which we hold dear our love of freedom, our commitment to equal justice, our tolerance for one another."

The City of Seattle held its official celebration at the Seattle Center House.

Murray's remarks as prepared follow:

Thank you, Mayor Nickels and thank you for your leadership of the great city of Seattle.

I'm honored to be here today with so many people who are committed to keeping Dr. King's dream alive now and for the future. I want to thank everyone who's made this celebration possible -- from the organizers to the young people who are here, sharing their ideas with us. I'm especially proud to help honor the four M.L.K. Youth Award winners who we are recognizing this afternoon.

Today we remember how Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. overcame fear and uncertainty with a call for unity and brotherhood. And with his voice, he inspired us to live up to the ideals upon which our nation was founded - freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality.

His voice calls out to us, as the struggle continues today. America has made great progress, but we have yet to reach the mountaintop.

We honor Dr. King's life and his legacy -- not just today -- but in our daily work for equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

While leaders -- like John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson -- helped change the law to promote equality, the struggle continues as we pursue Dr. King's dream.

Each in our own way, everyone here today is working to fulfill the dream of freedom and opportunity that Dr. King inspired us to achieve.

We each have a contribution to make -- whether it's in a classroom, a Church, a Temple, a Synagogue or a Mosque, a health clinic, a community center, a union hall, a voter registration drive, or a hundred other places where people like you are strengthening the heart and soul of our community.

I am working towards that dream by standing up for our values in Washington, D.C.

In the U.S. Senate -- not far from where Dr. King delivered his "I Have A Dream Speech" -- the struggle for equality and for freedom continues.

There are some who want to pack our courts with judges who have been deaf to the call for civil rights.

Make no mistake: Our courts must remain a place where every citizen can seek and receive justice under the law. We cannot afford to give lifetime appointments to justices who would reverse the progress we have made on equality, opportunity, equal protection and human rights.

The struggle continues today.

We are also still working to increase diversity and promote equal opportunity in our colleges and universities. We have made great strides in this country in increasing minority enrollment in higher education. We have worked to provide financial aid and other assistance to break down the barriers that place artificial limits on who can attend.

If we agree that one of the keys to a better future is a good education then we must continue to make sure that the doors of opportunity remain open to all Americans, especially at our colleges and universities.

The struggle continues today.

And today in Washington state and in Washington, D.C., our budgets are in crisis. Our state faces a record shortfall that requires some painful cuts. Nationally, we have necessary investments in: homeland security, in border security, in our military, in our Coast Guard, in our airports and seaports.

We must bear these burdens, but cannot abandon those who are struggling -- especially at a time when we must pull together as one.

Each of you here today should be proud of our state's long tradition of sharing common values. We have led the way in promoting tolerance, civil rights, human rights, and respect for others. We look out for one another, especially in times of need.

The struggle continues today.

For Dr. King, the challenge came from within our borders. Today, our challenges come from within and abroad.

Many of us face uncertainty, with our jobs, our health care, our old sense of security.

Some may try to seize on uncertainty to sow the seeds of division to tear us apart.

Just as in Dr. King's day, we must not let fear undermine the values, which we hold dear our love of freedom, our commitment to equal justice, our tolerance for one another.

We are united in our struggle - in Dr. King's struggle.

And we are here today to proclaim: We shall overcome.