Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for a special ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, hello everyone. Mr. President, Madam Vice President, all the friends of democracy, justice, love and hope who are here today. And thank you, President Harry Johnson, for your kind introduction. To you and to Guy Vickers, thank you for bringing us together for this beautiful event and your organization’s stewardship of these tributes to Dr. King. Let’s hear it for Harry Johnson and Guy Vickers. That’s an applause line.
It’s always a thrill – I’m sure I can speak for everyone here – it’s always a thrill to return to the MLK Memorial, and to do so today. Today, as we celebrate ten years since the dedication when we were joined by President Barack Obama and our former colleague, the beloved Congressman John Lewis. On that day, John Lewis said this – he referred to the monument as ‘a monument to peace, to love and to nonviolent resistance on the front yard of America, to symbolize the cornerstone of our true democracy.’ Dr. King’s presence on the front yard of America with President Washington, President Lincoln, President Jefferson. Well, his presence, while not a president, has brought luster to the front lawn, has brought justice to the front lawn and has brought many more children to the front lawn of America.
Today, it is a privilege, I know, for all of us to return to the Mall with so many who were here for that dedication, so many who played a role in the idea and then the fulfillment of the idea of this monument – and that are many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus who are here today. They are led by our Chair now, Joyce Beatty. And I want them all to rise, the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Thank you for your leadership. And I also want to thank Martin Luther King III, Marc Morial – former Mayor Morial – Mayor Muriel Bowser, for their participation. And isn’t it a thrill and an honor to be here – a privilege to be here with President Biden today? Thank you, President Biden.
And how proud are we that we are here with the first woman and the first African American Vice President of the United States?
Thank you, Mr. President.
Nearly 60 years ago – well it was actually 58, I remember because I was here, but I couldn’t stay to see the speech because I had to leave to go get married. So, now I know how many years ago it was because that’s how many years I’ve been married. But, it was such an occasion to see so many people converging on Washington, D.C. – among others, our dear John Lewis. And for people to hear Dr. King, not far from here, deliver his immortal call to action. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of America’s children.’ So, as I said, I’ll speak about that democracy.
We must make real the promises of democracy for families lacking affordable health care, child care, lacking good-paying jobs with dignity and justice. We must make real the promise of democracy for Americans denied their right to vote and have equal justice under the Constitution. We must make real the promise of democracy for communities of color facing police violence and racial injustice. We must make real the promise of democracy for our children, who deserve a safe, secure, healthy housing and a future and who face environmental injustice. In his book, Strength to Love, Dr. King said, ‘God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth, while others live in abject, deadly poverty.’ That challenge, that call to action, could not be more important than it is today, as our President proceeds to Build Back Better.
Dr. King often preached that change does not roll out on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. From the earliest days of our democracy, freedom-loving people have struggled to create change for our nation. Indeed, the story of America is the story of ever-expanding freedoms in our country – strengthened by the vision, inspiration, leadership of President Joe Biden. And – that’s an applause line.
Okay. And with the great leadership of Vice President Kamala Harris – strengthened by the leadership, inspired by the activism of millions of Americans across the nation who are crying out for hope, love, justice and democracy, and blessed by the example of Dr. King, let us strive to make real his dream and make real the promise of democracy for justice, hope and love.
Thank you all very much.
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