BALTIMORE – To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, released the following statement.
“On January 20, we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his prolific fight for freedom and equality. At the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, he called upon the nation and its leaders to codify legal and social equality for black Americans, to eradicate poverty and to ensure fair treatment for all citizens under our great nation. He led a movement guided by peace and compassion that summoned the power to challenge forces of hate and intolerance deeply embedded in our legal system and our national identity.
“He championed the legislative milestones that continue to shape our society today, but we can’t ignore the fact that many who marched with Dr. King, their children, grandchildren, still carry the weight of the economic disparities, ongoing systemic prejudice, and social biases seeded far before the Jim Crow Era.
“Our broken criminal justice system continues to disproportionately – and sometimes fatally – target black lives and communities. Discriminatory profiling still threatens economic progress, health outcomes, and educational and job opportunities. We are still fighting to restore one of the landmark achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was gutted in the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision and opened the floodgates for the disenfranchisement of black and minority voters. As the current administration continues to unravel the social safety net, embolden hateful rhetoric and take precise aim at the policies in place to address injustice and inequality, Dr. King’s message is more important than ever.
“It’s easy to use this holiday to say ‘look how far we’ve come.’ However, when we measure the distance between the ideologies of the past and our present realities, the gulf between freedom and equality for all Americans across racial and socioeconomic strata, we must understand that more than 50 years after his death, we still have much work to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.
“Therefore, we must honor him by following in his footsteps and using his legacy to inform the work we do – in Congress, in the world and within ourselves – to get there. Dr. King taught us that this fight is ongoing and that it doesn’t end after one speech, one protest, or even after one law is passed.
“As long as injustice lives, we must continue the fight to end it. He famously said that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’ in his work, he reminds us that it does not do so on its own but rather through the work of ordinary men and women who choose to be extraordinary citizens and fight hate and injustice wherever it arises.”