Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the opening session of the NAACP's Centennial Convention last night in New York City. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:
“Thank you Roslyn [Brock]. Roslyn is following in the NAACP's 100-year tradition of strong leadership, and leading the way into the future. Congratulations Roslyn for being the youngest person to serve as the Vice Chair of NAACP's Board of Directors.
“The NAACP is invigorated by its youthful leaders. Chief among them is your new President and CEO, Ben Jealous. And I don't just say that because Ben is a former constituent in San Francisco. Congratulations, Ben, on leading your first convention - one of great importance not only to NAACP, but to our entire country.
“Your organization has been enriched by the transformational figures who made this centennial anniversary possible. I would like to recognize a past great NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond, this year's recipient of the Spingarn Medal. The Library of Congress rightly named him last year, ‘a living legend.' Congratulations Julian!
“It is an honor for me to be here as Speaker of the House to bring greetings from the Congress. I also come here as a lifetime member of the NAACP San Francisco branch. I am pleased to be here with my California friends Amos Brown, Alice Huffman, and Willis Edwards.
“As some of you know, I was raised in Baltimore and in the D'Alesandro home, the names of Enolia McMillan and the entire Mitchell family, especially Parren and Clarence Mitchell, were revered.
“We are proud of Baltimorean Kweisi Mfume, a past president of NAACP, and Ben Jealous, the new president of NAACP who has strong Baltimore roots, as does Roslyn Brock.
“Two Members of Congress, Bobby Scott and Al Green, have served as former presidents of NAACP branches, so I hope you know that NAACP has friends in Congress and a friend in the Speaker's office.
“On behalf of all of your many friends in Congress, I am here to thank you for 100 years of NAACP success.
“In advancing African Americans issues of social justice and opportunity, you have advanced our nation. You have brought us closer to the ideal of equality that is both our nation's heritage and our hope. The NAACP has made America more American by helping us honor our pledge to the flag, one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.
“In your efforts, you have true partners in Congress.
“The United States Capitol is becoming a different place - a place that now celebrates exceptional leadership by all who have strengthened our nation.
“To salute the patriotic Americans who have worn our nation's uniform and kept America safe:
- We finally awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen, who proudly defended America.
- And last year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the integration of the Armed Forces.
“To recognize the contribution women have made to our nation:
- We recognized the exceptional Dorothy Height and her lifetime of service with the Congressional Gold Medal.
- Rosa Parks was honored by our nation by lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda; the first woman to be so recognized.
- And just this spring, a magnificent bust of Sojourner Truth was welcomed to the Capitol's marble halls by thousands of people.
“And because the Capitol should reflect the vibrant diversity of the American people, as the first woman Speaker of the House, I was proud to appoint the first African American Officer of the House: Clerk Lorraine Miller, President of the Washington branch of the NAACP, and a member of your national board.
“The U.S. Capitol is finally living up to its promise as a Capitol for all Americans.
“But the real work of the Congress is not the ceremonies we hold or the statues we build, it is what happens on the floor of Congress. That is where we have an opportunity to make progress for all Americans.
“As the NAACP begins its next 100 years, you have a Congress that is with you to achieve our shared priorities. We are now in a period of real change - and real opportunity.
“It is time, for as you say, ‘Bold Dreams, Bold Victories.' And thank God we have Barack Obama as President of the United States to achieve that vision.
“In all our efforts in Congress, we are strengthened by the leadership:
- Of our distinguished House Democratic Whip, Jim Clyburn,
- Congressional Black Caucus, led by the dynamic Chairwoman Barbara Lee,
- And we are informed by the wisdom of civil rights leader John Lewis.
“We are all proud of our chairman:
- Charlie Rangel, Ways and Means
- Ed Towns, Government Reform
- John Conyers, Judiciary
- Bennie Thompson, Homeland Security
“And we are enlightened by the priorities of the NAACP. I know creating jobs is your number one priority; it is the number one priority of our inspirational and visionary President, President Barack Obama and it is the number one priority of the leaders in Congress.
“President Obama's and Congress's three pillars for economic growth and job creation are:
- Education for our children from early childhood to lifelong learning.
- Energy independence and environmental justice to create new clean energy jobs.
- Health care for all Americans, which is a right not a privilege.
“It is a moral issue for our country to reduce health disparities whether in diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer and HIV AIDS.
“With that in mind, before the August recess, the House will vote on President Obama's comprehensive health care reform legislation.
“It will lower cost, bring greater choice, and ensure higher quality. It will reduce health disparities and offer stability and peace of mind. And it will have a public option that is necessary to remove the health insurance companies from coming between patients and their doctors.
“But in order to succeed, the leadership of all of you - in the NAACP - will continue to be called upon. We need you to partner with President Obama and Congress to take health care in a New Direction. We need each of you to contact your Member of the House and Senate.
“This is truly our moment. Together, we must be organized and unified to deliver the change Americans need.
“As our great President has said: ‘We will look back on this moment as the time when the American people reclaimed together their future and wrote the next great chapter in American history.'
“We need this new generation of the NAACP to write the next chapter that addresses job creation, quality education and comprehensive health care for all.
“Congratulations, NAACP, for 100 years of progress, best wishes to you for another 100 years of success.
“Thank you, NAACP for helping America to achieve liberty and justice for all!
“God bless you. God bless America.”