Senate Democrats

Reid Statement On The 50th Anniversary Of The March On Washington

Las Vegas, NVNevada Senator Harry Reid today released the following statement on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

Today marks an important time in American history. On August 28, 1963, when a quarter of a million Americans marched on Washington demanding what Dr. King called, “a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity,” I was working in the United States Capitol to support my young family as I attended law school.

Looking out from the Capitol, I watched the buses roll into Washington. And then I watched as a sea of men, women and children emerged from those buses and peaceably assembled to petition their government for redress of grave grievances.

I could not hear the speeches given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that day. I could not feel the heat of the August sun on the National Mall. But I could see the tide of history turn as hundreds of thousands of my brothers, sisters and fellow Americans pushed forward toward freedom. The March was about what united Americans, not what made us different or divided us. The March, and Dr. King’s speech, reminded us of our shared humanity.

That day, Martin Luther King shared his dream and urged marchers to consider 1963 not as the end of the fight for civil rights, but as the beginning. This is what he said: “We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ … We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

The Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and the subsequent enactment of laws in states like North Carolina, Texas, and Mississippi, that attempt to make it harder for the poor and minorities to vote, indicate that we still have a long way to go to realize Dr. King’s dream.

The Senate will debate the Voting Rights Act. We will examine these dangerous voter suppression efforts, and propose steps the Senate can take to ensure the right of every American to cast a ballot.

We still ache from that terrible day when Dr. King was taken from us much too soon. By building a stronger, fairer nation together, we celebrate his legacy and validate the greatness of an America that Dr. King believed in and worked to change.

I hope that all Americans will take a moment today to reflect on Dr. King’s words and work, and will strive toward the more perfect union that he knew we could become.”