Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) Offers Praise for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Stuart Pigler

by Stuart Pigler
A New Visions Commentary paper published March 1997 by The National Center
for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web Reprints permitted provided source
is credited.
The following is a statement entered into the Congressional Record by Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), the only statement given by a United States Senator of either party in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

“I rise today in recognition of a great man who did much to change our nation for the better. Before he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. awakened the conscience of a nation. His campaign of nonviolent protest brought to light the injustices of a racially segregated society and played a major role in fostering the legislation necessary to do away with many forms of official discrimination.

“Our nation remains far from perfect, particularly in regard to relations between the races. But America is more just and honest because of the efforts of this man of God. And, in confronting the problems now before us we still can look to Dr. King for guidance.

“Clearly we have more work ahead of us in order to achieve justice in our racial relations. But our greatest challenge in my view is that of restoring hope and opportunity to those of us living in our impoverished inner cities. Rev. King knew of this tragedy and he spoke out against it. I myself have seen the poverty and isolation of many of our inner-city neighborhoods. These areas are cut off from the rest of the city, and suffer from a lack of economic hope and the breakdown of the institutions of community on which people everywhere must rely. America must address these pockets of hopelessness, to bring to them the economic growth and spiritual fulfillment necessary for a functioning community life.
“Through his speeches and grassroots activism, Dr. King addressed the problem of poverty and the loss of community. He also gave us advice on how to face our problems. The key word, I submit, is ‘action.’ As Reverend King put it: ‘We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.’

“I am proud to say that many people in my State of Michigan are carrying on Dr. King’s work even as we speak. They know that the time is ripe for doing right. In Detroit’s Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, for example, students are participating in the DECA Program. These students have dedicated themselves to helping their community. They have adopted a local senior center to see to it that the resident senior citizens have the comfort and community provided by regular visitors. They have participated in walks for the homeless, put together a silent auction with proceeds going to the homeless, and given up a recent Sunday to assist with the Special Gift Holiday Party for Homeless Children held just before Christmas.

“I commend participants in the DECA Program at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit. I strongly believe that the kinds of positive local community action in which they are engaged do credit to the memory and legacy of Reverend King and that their efforts can be part of a larger effort to rebuild our inner cities. Now that we have celebrated the life of Dr. King in our homes, let us celebrate his life by building on his legacy in our communities.”

Senator Abraham’s thoughtful and sincere comments stand in contrast to the embarrassing silence of Senate Democrats regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Furthermore, Sen. Abraham has been a tireless advocate for community empowerment ideas designed to unleash the economic potential of urban neighborhoods across America.


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