Pelosi Remarks At Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Members of Congress for a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon everyone. I thanked the organizers of today for not putting me behind John Lewis, I didn’t realize that I would be following Reverend Martin Luther King with one of the greatest speeches of all time.

Thank you Speaker Ryan for bringing us together. Thank you Congressman Emanuel Cleaver for your beautiful words of inspiration. I am pleased to join the Speaker in welcoming our guest speakers here, Reverend Martin Luther King III, thank you, your siblings and your mom for sharing your father with our nation. With our country, with our future. It is an honor to be also here with the Legendary Lonnie Bunch, the outstanding Leader of the extraordinary National Museum of African American History and Culture. Thank you, part of the Smithsonian Institution.

We gather here in Statuary Hall beneath Clio, and her clock. Clio is the muse of history and men and women in these hallowed halls are a part of history. Clio is there to judge, that our words and action would face the judgment of history and that we are a part of the long and honorable heritage of our Democracy.

Dr. King was a singular man, an exemplar of exceptional faith and vision, a clarion voice for thundering moral righteousness. That tragic day in Memphis the world lost a great light and justice. As we celebrate Dr. King’s life, we also honor the workers, men and warriors who marched and fought for justice with him across the nation, including another one of our guest speakers today. An inspiration to the Congress, Congressman John Lewis, whom you will be hearing from shortly, whom I did not want to follow.

In the 1950s the Kings, Coretta Scott King and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to India to study Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, so they could apply them to the civil rights struggle here at home. In Sanskrit the word for non-violence, ‘satyagraha,’ has two meanings. It means non-violence and it means insistence on the truth. Insistence on the truth and non-violence. Though they knew it would mean sacrifice and struggle for their family, and for many others across America, the Kings would insist on the truth at the heart of our nation.

That truth, that we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. Dr. King insisted on that truth at lunch counters, marches and churches. He insisted on that truth of his dream. A dream of equality and opportunity for all regardless of race, gender or creed.

He insisted on the truth of economic justice when he said, ‘God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.’ He insisted on the truth of health care as a right when he said ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and most inhumane.’ Our chair of our Congressional Black Caucus, Mr. Cedric Richmond hears that sentence over and over again by Mr. Clyburn of the House.

So much more of Dr. King’s truth and dream remain to be achieved, but I have hope because of the young leaders across the nation who are advancing Americas journey of progress for all. As Dr. King led a generation that struggled to dismantle discrimination, these courageous young people are blazing a trail toward a more perfect union. Our goal. The day before his death Dr. King proclaimed ‘The greatness of America is the right to protest for right.’

In the eloquent student leader from Parkland, in our patriotic young Dreamers and the champions of Black Lives Matter and the women who say ‘Me Too,’ the truth of Dr. King’s words ring clearer than ever. On this anniversary, let us stand with these young champions as they demand action and justice in the tradition of Dr. King. And let us honor Dr. King always by standing on the mountaintop, insisting on the truth and advancing the radiant promise of progress for all.

As Dr. King said in his remarks, ‘this cannot be in vain.’ We all do know that as we pray for God to bless America, God truly blessed America with the leadership, life and family of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Thank you.

Newsletter Signup