New Visions Commentary
The National Leadership Network of
Senator Spencer Abraham Offers Praise for Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.
by Stuart Pigler
A New Visions Commentary paper published March 1997
by The National Center
for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington,
DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail Project21@nationalcenter.org,
Reprints permitted provided source
The following is a statement entered into the Congressional Record
by Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), the only statement given by
a United States Senator of either party in recognition of Martin
Luther King Jr. Day:
"I rise today in recognition of a great man who did much
to change our nation for the better. Before he was struck down
by an assassin's bullet, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. awakened the conscience of a nation. His campaign of nonviolent
protest brought to light the injustices of a racially segregated
society and played a major role in fostering the legislation necessary
to do away with many forms of official discrimination.
"Our nation remains far from perfect, particularly in regard
to relations between the races. But America is more just and honest
because of the efforts of this man of God. And, in confronting
the problems now before us we still can look to Dr. King for guidance.
"Clearly we have more work ahead of us in order to achieve
justice in our racial relations. But our greatest challenge in
my view is that of restoring hope and opportunity to those of
us living in our impoverished inner cities. Rev. King knew of
this tragedy and he spoke out against it. I myself have seen the
poverty and isolation of many of our inner-city neighborhoods.
These areas are cut off from the rest of the city, and suffer
from a lack of economic hope and the breakdown of the institutions
of community on which people everywhere must rely. America must
address these pockets of hopelessness, to bring to them the economic
growth and spiritual fulfillment necessary for a functioning community
"Through his speeches and grassroots activism, Dr. King addressed
the problem of poverty and the loss of community. He also gave
us advice on how to face our problems. The key word, I submit,
is 'action.' As Reverend King put it: 'We must come to see that
human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes
through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing
to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself
becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use
time creatively and forever realize that the time is always ripe
to do right.'
"I am proud to say that many people in my State of Michigan
are carrying on Dr. King's work even as we speak. They know that
the time is ripe for doing right. In Detroit's Martin Luther King,
Jr. High School, for example, students are participating in the
DECA Program. These students have dedicated themselves to helping
their community. They have adopted a local senior center to see
to it that the resident senior citizens have the comfort and community
provided by regular visitors. They have participated in walks
for the homeless, put together a silent auction with proceeds
going to the homeless, and given up a recent Sunday to assist
with the Special Gift Holiday Party for Homeless Children held
just before Christmas.
"I commend participants in the DECA Program at Martin Luther
King, Jr. High School in Detroit. I strongly believe that the
kinds of positive local community action in which they are engaged
do credit to the memory and legacy of Reverend King and that their
efforts can be part of a larger effort to rebuild our inner cities.
Now that we have celebrated the life of Dr. King in our homes,
let us celebrate his life by building on his legacy in our communities."
Senator Abraham's thoughtful and sincere comments stand in contrast
to the embarrassing silence of Senate Democrats regarding Martin
Luther King, Jr. Day. Furthermore, Sen. Abraham has been a tireless
advocate for community empowerment ideas designed to unleash the
economic potential of urban neighborhoods across America.
(Stuart Pigler, a member of the national Advisory Council of
the African-American leadership group Project 21, is a legislative
aide to Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Dick Posthumus.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views
of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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