[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 154 (2008), Part 1]
[Pages 24-27]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

                      DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Altmire). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Cohen) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, the subject of my Special Order today is the 
birthday of one of America's greatest citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, 
  Dr. King's birthday will be celebrated next week with the national 
holiday on Monday, one of the only men or women to have a holiday named 
for them in this country. At one time, of course, we celebrated the 
birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and now we 
celebrate Presidents Day. But we celebrate Dr. King's Day, a great 
American and an individual who changed this country for the better and 
whose life is a testament to fortitude and courage, faith, and a desire 
to make America better.
  On April 4, 1968, 40 years ago this year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
was assassinated in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. That was a 
defining moment in the history of America, indeed, in the history of 
the world. While Dr. King's death should not and will not ever be 
forgotten, I think that today on what would have been his 79th 
birthday, we should remember his life because it was his life, his 
actions and his eloquent words, that truly challenged us as a Nation to 
consider where we were and where we could go.
  Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 
1929, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta King. 
As we all know, Dr. King followed in his father's footsteps and became 
a minister at the age of 24 in Montgomery, Alabama, where just 2 years 
later Rosa Parks refused to comply with the Jim Crow laws, which 
required her to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. The 
subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Rev. King, changed America. 
The boycott lasted over a year but resulted in the Supreme Court 
decision outlawing racial discrimination on public transportation. Only 
in his mid-20s, Martin Luther King's passion and commitment were 
already affecting the laws of our Nation.
  During his life, Dr. King's house was bombed and his government 
wiretapped his conversations. But Dr. King never wavered from his 
commitment to nonviolent change. Dr. King turned a mirror on America, 
and the reflection was not good. It was ugly. America was not the land 
of the free but it was a land built by the enslaved. The very Capitol 
Building in which I speak and in which we make our laws was built by 
slaves. Dr. King pulled back the quasi-fiction that has so often been 
touted as patriotism as if to say, ``but what about these Americans?'' 
And those are his words: ``But what about these Americans?'' Jim Crow 
laws, which had created two Americas, which had denied access and 
opportunity for so long were held up for examination, and they failed 
the examination, as they should have.
  We are not there, ladies and gentlemen. I wish we were. I wish we had 
achieved the dream where the content of one's character is what each 
person is judged by, not by the color of one's skin. We are not there, 
but the good news, the positive message that Dr. King has etched into 
our national conscience is that one man can make a difference. One 
young man can step forward and live his life with purpose and dignity, 
can become the voice of all those whose voices have been stilled, whose 
hope has been lost. No assassin's bullet could stop what Martin Luther 
King had begun. Today, as we celebrate a birth which has changed us and 
which continues to challenge us, let us remember his dream.
  Dr. King's words are what he's best remembered for. And in his 
hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, his words will be played constantly 
over the weekend and through Monday as we remember how he challenged 
us, how he inspired us in the 1950s and in the 1960s. Radio station 
WLOK will be, I know, having a tribute to him in Memphis, and other 
places all over the country will do the same. And in Memphis there will 
be a basketball game, a national basketball game, that will celebrate 
civil rights victories of this country. Particularly Bob Lanier will be 
there and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others. And we look at the steps 
which we have taken in this country to make the country better through 
sports and basketball, and I commend David Stern and the NBA for having 
that game in Memphis on Dr. King's birthday.
  At this time I would like to read some quotes from Dr. Martin Luther 
King, Jr., as will be read and as will be heard throughout this country 
in the coming week and the coming weekend. Many of them resonate with 
the issues of today.
  ``A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of 
consensus.'' And we need more leaders like that today who mold 
  ``A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on 
military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching 
spiritual doom.'' Remember, Mr. Speaker, Dr. King was speaking during 
the time of the Vietnam War. We have another Vietnam, I think, today in 
Iraq, and we are spending more money not on military defense but on 
military offense and leaving programs of social importance behind. And 
I question the spirituality of where this country presently is, 
spending so much in Iraq and so little in America.
  ``A right delayed is a right denied.'' And there are so many rights 
which have not been granted to people and not just on the basis of race 
and religion and national origin but also of sexual orientation. ``A 
right delayed,'' Dr. King said, ``is a right denied.''
  Dr. King said, ``Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has 
made the world better.'' And indeed they have. We are a country of 
minorities making for a great majority, and when we don't respect the 
rights of the minorities, we endanger ourselves.
  Dr. King said, ``An individual has not started living until he can 
rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the 
broader concerns of all humanity.'' And I would ask each of my 
colleagues to hold that thought in their minds when they vote and to 
realize it's not just the nature of their districts and their 
individual concerns which are important but the broader concerns of 
this country, as Dr. King said, ``the broader concerns of all 
  Dr. King said, ``An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells 
him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in 
order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice is 
in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.''
  Dr. King and many civil rights workers violated the law, the law of 
the country, mostly in the South, Jim Crow laws, that said people were 
separate and inherently unequal. He did that with Rosa Parks when they 
challenged the laws that said African Americans were to ride on the 
back of the bus. And he challenged, along with President Johnson and 
this Nation in the 1960s, the law that said there could be separate 
establishments and would be by law for people based on race for 
entertainment, different public facilities, eating establishments, 
hotels and motels, colleges and schools. Those were wrong laws. They 
needed to be challenged, and they were challenged by Dr. King and many 
civil rights leaders, and the world changed in the 1960s.
  Dr. King said, ``At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of 

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He also said, ``Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world 
that we must love our enemies or else? The chain reaction of evil, hate 
begetting hate, wars producing more wars, must be broken or else we 
shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.'' And, Mr. 
Speaker, I reflect on this when I think about what we are doing in the 
Middle East. Hate begets hate. Wars produce more wars. And we are in an 
  Dr. King said, ``He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in 
it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without 
protesting against it is really cooperating with it.'' One must 
actively oppose evil. And oftentimes in the debates in Congress, you 
have to remember Dante, and Dr. King has a quote similar to Dante, that 
the warmest spots in hell are reserved for people who in times of 
controversy stand on the sidelines. Certainly something Dr. King did 
not do.
  In Dr. King's great speech just outside the Capitol on the mall, 
which I recall watching on television and which I am thrilled to be a 
Member of this House of Representatives so near to the mall where Dr. 
King gave his ``I have a dream'' speech, he said, ``I have a dream that 
my four little children will one day live in a Nation where they will 
not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their 
  ``I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every 
hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made 
straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh 
shall see it together.
  ``I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons 
of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to 
sit down together at the table of brotherhood.''
  As I said earlier, Dr. King's dream has not totally been achieved, 
but we are getting closer to it. We are engaged in a Presidential 
debate where his words and actions are subject of much debate. But I 
have no doubt that Dr. King would be proud of all the candidates in the 
Democratic column who are running for this office and know that they 
are children of Dr. King's dream. To see an African American gentleman 
have a legitimate chance to be President of the United States and to 
see a woman have that same opportunity is what Dr. King talked about. 
And they should be judged not by the color of their skin or by their 
gender but by the content of their character.
  ``Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'' Dr. King 
said. And that's something to be remembered when we see nooses hung in 
small towns or people being shot, tied behind cars because of aspects 
of their personage of which they had no choice.
  ``It may be true,'' Dr. King said, ``that the law cannot make a man 
love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's 
pretty important.'' And that is important. We have a Senate and a House 
that passed a condemnation of the lynching that took place in this 
country in the 20th century. And this House, hopefully, will pass 
another proposition that says that we apologize for having been part of 
a Nation that allowed for slavery to occur and had laws that permitted 
it and for Jim Crow laws that saddled this country with unjustice for 
100 years thereafter.
  Dr. King said, ``Life's most persistent and urgent question is what 
are you doing for others?'' And that's a question that my friend Irbin 
Salky has often said to me, that the purpose of why we are here on 
Earth is to help others. And it's part of the Judeo-Christian religion 
and creed to care for others, and that's why we are here.
  Again, Iraq and Vietnam, they are parallels, and Dr. King's words 
ring true today. He said, ``One of the greatest casualties of the war 
in Vietnam is the Great Society shot down on the battlefield of 

                              {time}  2200

  Indeed, many of the hopes of people in our inner cities, people that 
are left behind by what has been considered a great economic 
opportunity for many Americans, mostly the richest, have been left 
behind because of the moneys we have spent in Iraq rather than spending 
them on the people in this country.
  There are many parallels, and I think I know where Dr. King would be 
on the issue of war and peace, on the issue of choosing Iraq rather 
than choosing America, the cities that have been neglected, the inner 
cities, Appalachia, Katrina victims, and others. Dr. King said: ``The 
moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.'' He always 
felt that the arc was bending in the right direction, although slowly. 
And justice and change do move slowly but they do move. We have change. 
Change is not revolutionary; it's evolutionary. It happens, but it 
happens in increments. But Dr. King and people like him made it move at 
a stronger pace, and it's necessary to have agents of change. Agents of 
change have moved the society forward.
  One of the most prophetic quotes that I think I saw, and there are so 
many to review in thinking about Dr. King, he said: ``The Negro needs 
the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro 
to free him from his guilt.'' I know from my sponsorship of an apology 
for slavery and Jim Crow and some of the comments I have read, there's 
a lot of guilt in this country and it's making it difficult for people 
to engage in a dialog and understand and honestly see what slavery did 
for many people's lives. Not only did it cause the African Americans 
and have them be enslaved, but it caused a lot of people to make a lot 
of money and have a lot of great economic fortune at the expense of the 
enslaved, and then of the Jim Crow citizen that served their needs for 
100 years.
  The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important. I 
think about Martin Luther King, who died at the age of 39; I think of 
John Kennedy, who served in this House and lived to the age of 46; I 
think of his brother, Robert Kennedy, who died at age 42, but affected 
so many of us. All of these three men affected me in a great way. Their 
assassinations in 1963 and 1968 affected this world, but it affected me 
in a great way. It was the quality, not the longevity, of their lives 
that was important. And they didn't wait for tomorrow. They had the 
fierce urgency of now that Dr. King talked about to make a change, to 
make a change and a difference while they were on this Earth and to 
affect their fellow man and fellow woman.
  ``The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of 
comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and 
controversy.'' Once again, Dr. King implores us to have moral character 
and fiber and to stand up for what is important for America. And he 
said: ``We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together 
as fools.''
  Dr. Martin Luther King was a special man. He took his talents and he 
used them for his fellow man. He inspired us all. This country and this 
world is much the greater for his life. It is indeed a testament to him 
that this Congress under the unyielding leadership of Representative 
John Conyers passed a bill to make his birthday a national holiday. 
It's a national holiday that should be held in high esteem by all men 
and women in this country, because Dr. King was special and unique and 
stood up for all people and stood for the height of American ideals.
  I hope that everybody will take a moment over the weekend and on 
Monday on the celebration of his birthday to think about some of the 
things that Dr. King stood for: Challenging the system to make it 
better; for peace; for people who have been left behind in our society; 
doing for the least of these and trying to make the world a better 
  My city bears great scars for his death having taken place there. 
There was nothing unique to my city. It was something wrong with this 
country that somebody out there put a reward up for Dr. King's death 
and that somebody wanted to claim that reward and didn't have a regard 
for the humanity of Dr. King. In Memphis now there's a National Civil 
Rights Museum dedicated to the civil rights movement and to Dr. King's 
life and ideals, and I invite and encourage everyone to come

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to Memphis to visit the civil rights museum, which is at the spot where 
Dr. King was killed at the Lorraine Motel, which has been preserved, 
and to celebrate his life and to celebrate his values, not only on his 
birthday but on every day, for Dr. King was a great American. I am just 
lucky, as we all are, that he came my way.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time, and I know that you, like me, 
will reflect on Dr. King's works and will keep him in our hearts as we 
try to do what's right for America in this 110th Congress.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to 
honor Dr. King's legacy and recognize the innumerous Americans who 
continue along the path he paved towards justice and liberty for all 
  It is rare that one person can change the fate of our Nation; however 
Dr. King was able to do just that. Dr. King relied on his relationship 
with God and his faith in justice to articulate his vision for America 
in a way that touched the hearts and minds of the American public.
  Dr. King called on all of us to no longer stand alone in silence, but 
to stand up together as a voice against injustice. He inspired us to 
fight for change through nonviolent means, and paved the road for us to 
continue that fight even after his death.
  Few people would sacrifice time and energy for loved ones, fewer for 
strangers, yet Dr. King humbled himself to do just that. He ultimately 
sacrificed his life and his family sacrificed their patriarch for the 
struggle towards political justice for all Americans. Today we pay 
homage for their selflessness and publicly thank them for their 
commitments to humanity.
  Dr. King left us with the challenge to courageously fight and secure 
the civil rights for all, from the impoverished and disenfranchised 
underclass to the politically and economically endowed. Although his 
challenge was issued 40 years ago, we still have not fully realized his 
noble request.
  Today's Martin Luther King Day is as much about the past as it is 
about the future. Dr. King's dream is truly timeless, and I hope that 
our next generation will find inspiration in his faith and vision.
  Mrs. JONES of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise 
today to celebrate the life of one of the greatest leaders in our 
Nation's history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King is 
revered and respected throughout the world for his commitment to unite 
humanity by working to end segregation and racial discrimination and to 
create social and economic justice for all.
  Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the issues of racism, segregation, 
and inequality to the forefront of the United States' and the world's 
moral conscience. He willingly sacrificed his life for humanity in the 
hope of helping our Nation fulfill its promise of ``life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness'' for all Americans. He vehemently expressed 
that America could not be true to its vision unless these inalienable 
rights expressed in its founding documents could be applied to all.
  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned a world-wide community where 
all forms of discrimination and prejudice would cease to exist. He 
advocated peaceful methods of conflict resolution instead of brute 
force and violence. To King, his dream was not a utopian ideal, but a 
reality that could be actively sought. King stated that, ``It is this 
love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.''
  Those who released attack dogs at him, sprayed him down with 
firehoses, threatened him, and even bombed his house ultimately learned 
to respect him and his vision because of his unequivocal embrace of 
humanity for all. He looked past the evil he faced and the ignorance 
many held firmly close at heart with an empathetic vision of hope for 
social and economic justice. That is, he believed righteousness and 
love could overcome the greatest evils. I quote his vision, ``Yes if 
you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major 
for justice; say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of 
the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have the fine and 
luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a 
committed life behind.''
  In his last sermon, Dr. King stated, ``If any of you are around when 
I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral, and if you get 
somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell him not to talk too long.--Tell 
him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize; that isn't 
important. Tell him not to mention that I have three or four hundred 
other awards; that's not important. Tell him not to mention where I 
went to school. I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin 
Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for 
somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love 
somebody--I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed 
the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my 
life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I 
tried to love and serve humanity.''
  On behalf of the people of the 11th Congressional of Ohio I join with 
the rest of the Nation, and the world to celebrate the life of Dr. 
Martin Luther King, Jr. The torch has now been passed on to us to carry 
on his commitment for social and economic justice. There is still more 
work to be done. We must continue to strive towards making the dream 
Dr. King dreamt for us into a reality. May his legacy live on.

PAGE 36503


  The President notified the Clerk of the House that on the following 
dates, he had approved and signed bills of the following titles:

           December 18, 2007:
       H.R. 3315. An act to provide that the great hall of the 
     Capitol Visitor Center shall be known as Emancipation Hall.
       H.R. 4252. An act to provide for an additional temporary 
     extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the 
     Small Business Investment Act of 1958 through May 23, 2008, 
     and for other purposes.
           December 19, 2007:
       H.R. 4118. An act to exclude from gross income payments 
     from the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund to the victims of the 
     tragic event at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State 
       H.R. 6. An act to move the United States toward greater 
     energy independence and security, to increase the production 
     of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase 
     the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to 
     promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and 
     storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the 
     Federal Government, and for other purposes.
           December 20, 2007:
       H.R. 3648. An act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 
     1986 to exclude discharges of indebtedness on principal 
     residences from gross income, and for other purposes.
           December 21, 2007:
       H.J. Res. 72. An act making further continuing 
     appropriations for the fiscal year 2008, and for other 
       H.R. 365. An act to provide for a research program for 
     remediation of closed methamphetamine production 
     laboratories, and for other purposes.
       H.R. 710. An act to amend the National Organ Transplant Act 
     to provide that criminal penalties do not apply to human 
     organ paired donation, and for other purposes.
       H.R. 2408. An act to designate the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs outpatient clinic in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as the 
     ``Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient 
       H.R. 2671. An act to designate the United States courthouse 
     located at 301 North Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida, as the 
     ``C. Clyde Atkins United States Courthouse''.
       H.R. 3703. An act to amend section 5112(p)(1)(A) of title 
     31, United States Code, to allow an exception from the $1 
     coin dispensing capability requirement for certain vending 
       H.R. 3739. An act to amend the Arizona Water Settlements 
     Act to modify the requirements for the statement of findings.
           December 26, 2007:
       H.R. 366. An act to designate the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the ``Ernest 
     Childers Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic''.
       H.R. 797. An act to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
     improve low-vision benefits matters, matters relating to 
     burial and memorial affairs, and other matters under the laws 
     administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for 
     other purposes.
       H.R. 1045. An act to designate the Federal building located 
     at 210 Walnut Street in Des Moines, Iowa, as the ``Neal Smith 
     Federal Building''.
       H.R. 2011. An act to designate the Federal building and 
     United States courthouse located at 100 East 8th Avenue in 
     Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as the ``George Howard, Jr. Federal 
     Building and United States Courthouse''.
       H.R. 2761. An act to extend the Terrorism Insurance Program 
     of the Department of the Treasury, and for other purposes.
       H.R. 2764. An act making appropriations for the Department 
     of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the 
     fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other 
       H.R. 3470. An act to designate the facility of the United 
     States Postal Service located at 744 West Oglethorpe Highway 
     in Hinesville, Georgia, as the ``John Sidney `Sid' Flowers 
     Post Office Building''.

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       H.R. 3569. An act to designate the facility of the United 
     States Postal Service located at 16731 Santa Ana Avenue in 
     Fontana, California, as the ``Beatrice E. Watson Post Office 
       H.R. 3571. An act to amend the Congressional Accountability 
     Act of 1995 to permit individuals who have served as 
     employees of the Office of Compliance to serve as Executive 
     Director, Deputy Executive Director, or General Counsel of 
     the Office, and to permit individuals appointed to such 
     positions to serve one additional term.
       H.R. 3974. An act to designate the facility of the United 
     States Postal Service located at 797 Sam Bass Road in Round 
     Rock, Texas, as the ``Marine Corps Corporal Steven P. Gill 
     Post Office Building''.
       H.R. 3996. An act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 
     1986 to extend certain expiring provisions, and for other 
       H.R. 4009. An act to designate the facility of the United 
     States Postal Service located at 567 West Nepessing Street in 
     Lapeer, Michigan, as the ``Turrill Post Office Building''.