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Hoyer Urges Continuation of King’s Message

King's Message

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer and Ro Khanna submitted an op-ed to the Baltimore Sun this month in which they discussed their experience on March’s bipartisan Faith & Politics Institute’s Civil Rights pilgrimage that honored the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. They also discussed the ongoing work to expand equal opportunity in the US and continuing King’s Message.

The Faith & Politics pilgrimage took Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and Khanna (D-Calif., 17th) to Selma, Montgomery, and Memphis with their colleague, civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. After the trip, both said it reinvigorated their determination to fight for civil rights and equality through their seats in Congress. As they stood at the site of King’s murder, they were imbued with a sense of the need to carry on his work.

Although they were not a part of King’s generation, the two congressmen said his legacy has a sacred meaning to them and their calling to public service. The two said in the op-ed that they are inspired to finish the work of the civil rights movement, which is part of why they ran for Congress.

As the two visited Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, they heard King’s son, Martin Luther King III, make it clear that even after 50 years, the US has still not completely answered King’s call for “eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Congress still needs to work to protect the voting rights of minorities in the US. While the Voting Rights Act was an incredible achievement, since that time several states have enacted discriminatory voter-ID laws that result in much lower voter turnout at elections.

At the same time, the nation’s progress on fighting poverty is dismal. African-Americans are worse off economically than they were during the time of the civil rights movement and black unemployment was 7.5 percent last year, compared to 6.7 percent in 1968. Also, it has been steadily double the white unemployment rate since the 1960s.

The two congressmen said the job of government now is to fulfill King’s call for a job for every person who wants to work, and ensure that the next generation of people are trained for the next generation of jobs. That means investing in black neighborhoods and historically black universities, they said in their op-ed. Also, that means addressing the disparate drug enforcement and police brutality in black communities.


As he ended his Montgomery sermon, Martin Luther King III told every American to measure him or herself by Horace Mann’s yardstick: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” The congressmen insisted in their op-ed that Congress has got to be a place where humanity prevails.

“Together we’re going to keep working to carry on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights heroes so that our laws and policies reflect the vision of justice, equality, and broad access to opportunity for which they sacrificed,” they concluded.

Follow Congressman Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader Page.

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