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Today would have been the 89th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He grew up in circumstances that are unimaginably different, and yet hauntingly familiar. And that makes today’s MLK Day celebrations across the state especially poignant and timely.

Dr. King once wrote that “human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… No social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitably. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Those words are a powerful reminder that all of us must do our part to continue working towards the day when America is truly a place where all of us love and respect one another… Not just as equals, and not just as citizens, but as brothers and sisters.

This is a difficult time for our country. Names like Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray get seared into our memories because of the shockingly unjust ways each of them lost their lives. Places like Charleston, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia become infamous for shocking images of confederate flags and swastikas, and the bloody violence the white supremacists holding those flags unleash.

But through these difficulties, we take strength and courage from another wise observation by Dr. King – “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” That’s been true in powerful, transcendent moments, like when Barack Obama took the oath of office as President. And it’s been true in those moments that have steeled us to resist this unprecedented assault on progress – when Maxine Waters said “reclaiming my time,” she perfectly described the challenge we face and the work we must do.

Fifty years after Dr. King was taken from us, we have undeniably made progress as a country – and we undeniably have more progress to make. So today, as we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King at marches and remembrances across the state, let us use the anniversary of his birth as a moment where we renew and redouble our commitment to carrying on the work he gave his life for – building a just and peaceful country where everyone is truly equal.

Democratically Yours,

Eric C. Bauman, Chair
California Democratic Party