JANUARY 12th, 2018

As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you, Mr. President.

It is an honor to be here today celebrating this solemn occasion.

I thank you for signing legislation to designate the birthplace, church, and tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a national historic park.

His monumental struggle for civil rights earned these places of his life, faith, and death the same honor as Mount Vernon, and that famous, humble log cabin in Illinois.

This April, we will observe the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

I remember that day so vividly as a high-school student in Detroit.

Far from silencing his dream, death wrought him immortal in the American heart.

His message of equality, justice, and the common dignity of man resounds today, urgently needed to heal the divisions of our age.

Today, we honor the legacy of the man who marched on Washington for jobs and freedom by achieving both. For millions of Americans, of every race and background.

But his legacy also calls us to remember where these ideas—equality, freedom, and liberty—get their power.

Our good efforts alone are not enough to lend them meaning.

For by what shall I be called equal to another man?

It cannot be by wealth, for there will always be a richer man than me.

It cannot be by strength, for there will always be a stronger man than me.

It cannot be by success, or happiness, or beauty, or any other pieces of the human condition, which are distributed through providence alone.

So, perhaps providence alone provides the answer.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

With these familiar words, our Declaration of Independence recognizes the true Author of our common dignity. One that is beyond every human law and institution.

If we forget this source of our fundamental equality, then our fight to recognize it in our society will never be fulfilled.

This is a truth that Dr. King carried with him from Selma to Montgomery.

From a pulpit in Atlanta, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

And from a cell in Birmingham, to the entire world.

This year, we will not remember his slaying as an ending, but as a beginning.

As a moment when his truth rose stronger than hatred, and his cause larger than death.

As a moment when he was called to new life with his Creator, before whom all men shall one day stand in equal rank, bearing with them no riches but the content of their character.

If we keep this conviction at the center of our every word and action...

If we look upon our countrymen as brothers, with a shared home and a common destination...

Then we will truly create one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.


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