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Rep. John Lewis Discusses the 20th Celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

January 13, 2006
Press Release

January 13, 2006 - "As many celebrate the contributions of a great American, Martin Luther King, Jr., there are some who question whether the vision that Dr. King so eloquently described is still alive today," said Rep. Lewis. "But the assassins of Martin Luther King, Jr. could not kill the dream of peace. They could not kill the dream of an open society. They could not, and they did not kill the dream of the Beloved Community. The movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. led was too right, it was too necessary to be buried with his body. We know that his voice is stilled today, but his message must continue to be heard.

"If Dr. King were alive today he would be speaking out against the war in Iraq in the same way that he was speaking out against the war in Vietnam. He would say that ultimately humankind must choose between nonviolence and nonexistence. He would say that we should start using our limited resources to build and not to tear down, to heal and not to kill, to love and not to hate. He would say that war is obsolete as a tool of our foreign policy. It is important that on this day, this nation and the peoples of the world take some time to reflect upon Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of peace and his teachings on nonviolence.

"He would also be protesting the injustice of the Georgia photo ID bill and others like it around the country calling them a new form of poll tax. He would be organizing people to ensure that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act are not only reauthorized but fixed so that they retain their original power to thwart discriminatory voting practices throughout America. He would be discussing the pressing need for moral, ethical leadership in Washington and the culture of corruption. He would be saying that together as a nation, we can do better.

"On this day of observance, it is our task to renew our commitment to this dream and continue to push and pull to move this society forward. We used to say in the Movement that our struggle was not for one day, one month, or one year. Our struggle is not for one presidential term or the length of one judicial appointment. Our is the struggle of a lifetime, and each generation must do its part to bring this nation closer to fulfilling his vision of the Beloved Community, a truly interracial democracy, a nation at peace with itself."