New York State politicians reflect on the 'dreams' of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


WASHINGTON (WKTV) - President Barack Obama spoke from the very same spot that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech exactly 50 years ago today.

On the 50th Anniversary of one of the most memorable speeches in American history, Obama and former President Bill Clinton stood with the family of Martin Luther King, in front of the nation, to reflect upon his legacy and look ahead to building further progress on his visions.

In addition to the ceremony that took place in the nation's capital today, many New York State politicians also released statements reflecting upon Dr. King's legacy, and the speech that changed the course of American history:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

"The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech, is a moment to reflect as a state and as a nation on the progress that we have made towards achieving equality and opportunity for all.

New York has always been a beacon of equal rights as the birthplace of so many progressive organizations and social movements such as the NAACP, the women's rights movement, the environmental movement, the labor movement, and the gay rights movement. As Governor, I will continue to prioritize creating social and economic equality for all residents in our state to maintain New York's place as the progressive capital of the country.

And while today is a day to celebrate our progress, it is also an opportunity to reflect upon the work that still needs to be done to truly realize Dr. King's dream and to make our state and country a fairer and more just place for all."


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

"On this day 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. kindled Americans' hopes that his dream of full equality could be achieved. While we have made great progress, we still haven't achieved that laudable and necessary goal. And today's march shows the dream that Dr. King spoke about is very much alive in the hearts and souls of America."


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

"Today's 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King's historic dream is a moment for national reflection about how far we have come towards ending inequality and discrimination, and how far we still have left to go.  

Dr. King spoke of 'the fierce urgency of now' - which I hope this Congress will embrace. Among the many issues requiring that fierce urgency of now is restoring the Voting Rights Act this year ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The Voting Rights Act had been a cornerstone of ensuring the rights won in the Civil Rights movement continue to stand strong today, until it was essentially gutted by the Supreme Court this past June. The right to vote, that too many died to obtain, is a sacred human right, and ensuring that every vote counts is a cornerstone of our democracy, that must be embraced by both sides of the aisle. 

Today's display of grass roots activism goes to the very heart of what our democracy is about and will no doubt give voice to the fierce urgency of now that we should all feel in moving our ongoing march for equality and justice forward. 

Earlier this year, I was humbled to have the opportunity to reflect with Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis, and other civil rights leaders in Selma, Alabama for the annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage. I will never forget the re-enactment of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge led by Rep. Lewis nearly 50 years ago as a civil rights activist.  

I salute everyone who worked so tirelessly 50 years ago to make Dr. King's vision a reality and ensure our country held up to its fundamental values of equality, justice and fairness for all - and everyone today in Washington who are carrying that torch forward."


NY GOP Chairman Ed Cox

"Today, Americans pause to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of history's greatest civil rights leaders.
At the height of the U.S. civil rights movement, Dr. King rallied our Nation to live up to the promise of full equality under the law, without regard to race, color, or creed. Half a century ago today, Dr. King articulated his dream of a Nation in which Americans were judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." That dream will echo through the ages.
The NY GOP is proud of the Republican Party's history of fighting for civil rights.  Founded as the anti-slavery party, Republicans fought to amend the Constitution to grant African-Americans freedom, citizenship and the right to vote. Civil rights legislation has had strong Republican support from the 1860s to the present day as we fight for the civil rights issue of our time - an equal right to a good education.
We encourage all New Yorkers to take a moment to consider the lasting impact of Dr. King's ideals and their continuing relevance today."


NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

"Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to condemn inequality and oppression by the powerful, and to proclaim dignity and respect for every human being. Dr. King had a quintessentially American mission, and his words delivered at the March on Washington were a quintessentially American message. Our country was born in the spirit of transformation and revolution, challenging every generation since our founding fathers to hold true to the idea that 'all men are created equal.' Thanks to pioneers like Dr. King, the arc of our nation's history has been to march closer and closer to making that vision a reality.

Though we have accomplished much in the past 50 years, our aspiration for equality has not subsided, and the pursuit of equal justice under law must continue. We must continue to rally against economic inequality to ensure that every child has a fair shot at success and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We must stand up for the rights of laborers who are bullied by employers who cheat workers out of their own money by refusing to respect our minimum wage and prevailing wage laws. We must continue to protect our inalienable right to vote, fighting for laws that makes it easier for people to exercise that right.

Today, let us not only celebrate the culmination of the great movement-building of Dr. King's era, but also let us recommit to taking our part in his mission of greater justice and greater equality with each generation."


Assemblymember Anthony J. Brindisi (D-Utica)

"Today I am joining millions of New Yorkers who are reflecting on the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, and in particular, the passionate speech he delivered fifty years ago today to a quarter of a million people in Washington, D.C.  Dr. King spoke of his dream for the future, and few of us would argue that there has been great progress on the issue of racial equality since 1963, due in no small part to his vision on that day.

I join many elected and community leaders throughout the state in pledging to continue working on legislation to achieve equity in education; employment practices; election law; and in many other areas."

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