Washington, D.C. – (April 1, 2008)  Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson made the following statement this afternoon during the House floor debate on H.Res. 1061, a resolution observing the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and encouraging the people of the United States to pause and remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague from Georgia, Mr. John Lewis, for introducing this resolution which honors the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Today, nearly 40 years after he was tragically taken from us, we are still striving to create a society of equal opportunity, which he so eloquently called for. We still have a long way to go before his goals will be achieved, but at least he left for us a beacon of hope toward which we can all strive.

“I am privileged to represent the Thirtieth District of Texas in the Congress and would note that there are many in North Texas who have endeavored to maintain the legacy of Dr. King. Indeed, in their everyday actions, the clergy, elected officials, students and community in the district strive to implement Dr. King’s philosophy.

“In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means.

“It is ironic that his life was taken so prematurely at the hands of violence as he visited Memphis, Tennessee, to help lead sanitation workers in a protest over black workers being sent home with no pay because of bad weather, when white workers remained on the job. This tragic incident happened the day after he gave his ‘I’ve been to the Mountaintop’ speech, during which he seemed to almost prophetically foreshadow his impending death.

“Dr. King stood for the common man and for social and political justice in every facet and echelon of life.  As a man of vision and determination to do God’s will, King was truly destined to lead the people to the ‘promised land.’

“Sadly, like Moses, Dr. King was not able to go into the promised land of opportunities with those he led so far through the wilderness of injustice, hatred and bigotry.  Still today, there are many that have been left to rough their way through the thicket of discrimination and racism. Therefore, it is our responsibility to carry on the beacon he left for us that lights the way to true equality and justice.  

“Madam Speaker, we can honor Dr. King by bowing our heads in memory of him, but only for a moment. For we must then lift our heads, hold each other’s hands, look ahead—heads high—and continue the fight for his sacrifice for this Nation, which was freedom, equality and opportunity for all.”

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