Media Room

Drum Major Empower the DreamService welcome
Jan. 17, 2016

Thank you, Pastor Hennessee, for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful service this afternoon.

Congratulations on the tenth annual drum major service held in honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.   I also congratulate you as you celebrate your eleventh pastoral anniversary.

I want to recognize Mayor Hales and Nancy, other public officials, community leaders, faith leaders, and the wonderful citizens of the region joined here with me in this historic church.

Dr. King experienced, and as many people in this audience may have experienced themselves, visible evidence of segregation and discrimination.  Even more people have experienced it not by literal signs you can see, but by the signs you can’t see – in people’s hearts, minds, and spirits.

Dr. King and Mrs. King were ostracized because our system of governance made racial discrimination legal.

Yet, they fought for our common cause—“freedom.”  They fought hatred that could be seen and hatred and bitterness that could not be seen.

Often when people speak of the days of the Civil Rights Movement they seem to isolate the conversation as if it were only in America’s South.  However, we know better.  In fact Dr. King spoke from this very podium in 1961, the only place in Oregon he preached. He carried a message of hope and compelled people to join the cause.

My friends, as Governor of Oregon, I make it my business every day to be conscious of the very high price people of all ages, creeds, and nationalities paid for you and me to celebrate the many accomplishments “dreamed” of by Dr. King. 

However, no matter how much we celebrate, we still have a long way to go.  Let us enjoy this very important day and all of the celebrations we attend in honor of Dr. King’s birthday.  Let us reach out to friends and neighbors and encourage them to join us in the cause to make Oregon an even more livable place; free of hatred, bigotry, and discrimination in any dimension. 

That won’t happen overnight, but let us be serious, studious, and intentional about it. Let us strive to make sure every Oregonian has the ability to thrive, opening the doors of opportunity to everyone.
We need to be serious about making real progress.  Let us, once again, as we have in so many areas of public policy, show the world what happens when people come together to do great and worthy – and difficult – things.

So let’s all have a great time today and enjoy each MLK event we attend. But let us continue to work after these celebrations are over, and intentionally do everything we can as individuals to “fulfill” the “dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I am committed to this work, and I know you are too. Because we believe Dr. King’s words are real and right (and I paraphrase):  “No person is free, until all people are free.”

Thank you very much.