Today, we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights legacy with a day of service. My campaign spent the afternoon on a Prayer Walk on Edmondson Avenue and this evening at My Sister’s Place serving dinner. I met so many Baltimoreans who are reaching out to their neighbors to help this city reach its potential. It was a truly inspiring day.
In his famous speech entitled “I Have a Dream…,” Dr. King said that, one hundred years past the Emancipation Proclamation, “the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity.” This same phrase appears again in a speech delivered in 1968 called “The Other America” where he describes in vivid detail the disparities in opportunity for black people in America.
These powerful speeches describe Baltimore today – more than 50 years later – where entire communities remain cut off from any hope of prosperity. With high unemployment, poor housing and inadequate education, the deck is so stacked against children born in these neighborhoods that the odds of moving out of poverty are incredibly low.
In these two speeches, Dr. King described a country that had defaulted on the promise of our Declaration of Independence, to guarantee all people the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But he went on to say: “we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunity of this nation.”
These lines are a powerful reminder that we do not have to accept Baltimore’s current circumstances as its fate. We can close these gaps in our city and realize the dream of equal opportunity. We must follow the example of Dr. King and those who came after him, like Congressman Elijah Cummings, and resolve to fight once again to help Baltimore reach its potential.
Today, I’m asking you to join our team and help us close the opportunity gaps in Baltimore. Together, we can serve this city and make it work for everyone. Together, we can finally help all Baltimoreans reach its potential.