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Speeches from the 2008 Democratic National Convention

John Lewis
Remarks to the 2008 Democratic National Convention
Denver, Colorado
August 28, 2008

On this day 45 years ago, a son of America, a citizen of the world, a peaceful warrior, Martin Luther King Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said, “I have a dream today, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

He recalled that, “when the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” they issued a call for justice. And they founded our democracy on a mandate for freedom, equality and human dignity.

I was there that day when Dr. King delivered his historic speech before an audience of more than 250,000. I am the last remaining speaker from the March on Washington, and I was there when Dr. King urged this nation to lay down the burden of discrimination and segregation and move toward the creation of a more perfect union.

On that day, his words and his example inspired an entire generation of the young and old, the rich and poor – people of all faiths, races, cultures and backgrounds – to believe that we had the power, we had the ability, and we had the capacity to make that dream a reality.

Tonight, we have gathered here in this magnificent stadium in Denver because we still have a dream. As a participant in the civil rights movement, I can tell you the road to victory will not be easy. Some of us were beaten, arrested, taken to jail, and some of us were even killed trying to register to vote.

But with the nomination of Senator Barack Obama tonight, the man who will lead the Democratic Party in its march toward the White House, we are making a major down payment on the fulfillment of that dream. We prove that a dream still burns in the hearts of every American, that this dream was too right, too necessary, too noble to ever die.

But this night is not an ending. It is not even a beginning. It is the continuation of a struggle that began centuries ago in Lexington and Concord, in Gettysburg and Appomattox, in Farmville, Virginia, and Topeka, Kansas, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and Selma, Alabama.

Democracy is not a state. It is an act. It is a series of actions we must take to build what Martin Luther King Jr. called the beloved community – a society based on simple justice that values the dignity and the worth of every human being.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a distance to go. We’ve come a long way, but we must march again. On November 4th, we must march in every state, in every city, in every village, in every hamlet; we must march to the ballot box. We must march like we have never marched before to elect the next President of the United States, Senator Barack Obama.

For those of us who stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or who in the years that followed may have lost hope, this moment is a testament to the power and vision of Martin Luther King Jr. It is a testament to the ability of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. It is a testament to the promise of America.

Tonight, we have put together a tribute to the man and his message. Let us take a moment to reflect on the legacy and the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. on this 45th anniversary of the historic march on Washington.



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