Mayor Says Dr. King’s Dream Is Still Deferred for Residents of the Nation’s Capital
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In his weekly radio address this week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray noted that thousands of people would come to the District later this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and that District residents should use the opportunity to advocate for full democracy, just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
The broadcast can be heard on All News 99.1-FM WNEW radio beginning at 10:05 a.m. on Sunday, August 11. The text of the address is below:
Remarks of Mayor Vincent C. Gray
Weekly Radio Address
All News 99.1-FM WNEW
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Hello, WNEW listeners! I’m Vincent C. Gray, mayor of the District of Columbia. Later this month, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This event was pivotal in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. It drew 250,000 people to our city to call for the passage of meaningful civil-rights legislation and an immediate end to all forms of racial discrimination.
At the time, I was a young college student at The George Washington University, and I participated in the March on Washington. It was an absolutely spine-tingling experience. Without a doubt, the most memorable speaker that day was the last one – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered what some believe to be the greatest speech ever – "I Have a Dream."
I consider it to be the greatest speech ever because Dr. King successfully appealed to Americans of all backgrounds to live up to the promises on which our country was founded – that all human beings are created equal, and that we deserve equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Dr. King knew that, if African Americans continued to wait patiently for the freedom and equality they were being denied to be given to them, it would never happen. In his "Letter From Birmingham Jail," Dr. King himself famously summed it up by quoting British statesman William Ewart Gladstone’s timeless line: "Justice delayed is justice denied."
But justice has been delayed and denied to the District of Columbia for decades.
The nation’s capital is home to more than 632,000 people, but we have no voting representative in our own Congress. We pay more than $3.5 billion a year in federal taxes, just like others who do enjoy voting rights.
And we send our sons and daughters to fight America’s wars – wars authorized by a Congress in which we have no vote. We can’t even spend our own locally-raised tax dollars or enact our own laws without first getting permission from Congress!
Dr. King himself recognized this fundamental injustice, and he frequently advocated for self-determination for the District of Columbia. In 1965, he led a march from Shaw to the White House in support of democracy for the District. In a speech in Lafayette Park at the end of that march, he said Congress had been "derelict in their duties and sacred responsibility to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia."
While much of Dr. King’s dream has come to fruition for our country today, sadly, the District of Columbia still languishes without full voting rights, full representation or full democracy.
On Saturday, August 24th, we’ll have a chance to make our voices heard on this important matter of justice. At 9:00 a.m. that day, we will gather at the D.C. World War I Memorial on Independence Avenue to rally for D.C. statehood prior to the larger 50th anniversary march. Please join us in calling the nation’s attention to a part of Dr. King’s dream that, 50 years after the March on Washington, remains deferred.
Thank you for listening. I’m Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia.
More about the DC rally is in this blogpost.