Congresswoman Lee with Memphis Sanitation workers who striked with Dr. King fifty years ago for equal pay and safer working conditions. Photo from @RepBarbaraLee twitter account.
April 4th marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin King Jr.’s assassination. Had Dr. King lived he would have been 89 years of age. Though his life was cut short, his leadership and legacy of love lives on through many as commemoration ceremonies and marches took place across the nation bringing together millions.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee attended the official commemorative ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where she spoke in honor of Dr. King’s ongoing fight for justice and equality. She also spoke at the AFSCME Local 1773 event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike.
Dr. King’s struggle for equality was personal for Congresswoman Lee who grew up in the segregated south where she experienced firsthand the evils of racism and injustice. “My mother couldn’t get care at the hospital due to racism, I almost wasn’t born and she had to have a c-section,” said Lee.
Propelled by the circumstances she grew up in and inspired by Dr. King, Congresswoman Lee has made it her life’s work to serve others. “Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an inspiration and to be honest, I would not be able to serve as a congresswoman and do the things I do had it not been for Dr. King and his struggle,” she said.
Inspired by her experiences, it was a natural fit for Congresswoman Lee to dedicate her life to fighting for those without a voice and moving an agenda forward that helps all people.
“During my speech I encouraged everyone to stay woke and referenced his speech ‘Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence’, which he delivered exactly one year before his assassination.”
In that speech, Dr.King challenged America to tackle racism, materialism and militarism ”through a radical revolution of values that questions the ‘fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.’
Lee also expressed that creating systemic change requires addressing the disparities that continue to divide the country.
Lee acknowledged that King fought for the unions and the sanitation workers of Memphis and that the union busters of today are undermining the country.
“King always knew that real equality begins with economic equality,” she added.
Encouraged by the movements of today such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s Movement, Lee was energized and excited to see so many leaders and civilians coming together.
“Everyone is here and we are ready to continue Dr. King’s great work.”