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Prepared Remarks of Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore at the Department of Justice 2018 Commemorative Program Honoring the Life and Legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Director Toscano, for that warm introduction.  Thank you to the Cardozo Education Campus Junior ROTC Color Guard for your sharp presentation of the colors.  Thank you to Ms. Walker for your stirring rendition of the National Anthem and to Reverend Daniels for your inspiring invocation.  

I acknowledge and thank a great American and civil rights pioneer, Ms. Dorie Ann Ladner, for honoring us with your presence here today.  I also must thank Attorney General Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Associate Attorney General Brand, and FBI Director Wray for your outstanding leadership and unwavering support of the Civil Rights Division.

We gather here today to commemorate the life and the legacy of one of American history’s most iconic and important figures.  We gather here today to remember, to celebrate, and to act upon the American values that Dr. King so courageously championed.  We gather here today to recommit ourselves to working together to make our country more free, more fair, more open, more just, most equal, and more great.

2018 is a landmark year to pay tribute to Dr. King because this coming April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of his tragic and untimely assassination.  On that terrible day in 1968, an assassin’s bullet, propelled by hatred, injustice, and moral cowardice, violently cut short the mortal life of America’s preeminent patron of non-violence.  Yet that act of hate could not diminish Dr. King’s immortal legacy—a legacy that has inspired countless millions across the globe and continues to unite and to uplift all of us a half century later.

Few people in the history of our great nation have done as much as Dr. King to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  Dr. King was born as a son of the segregated South still haunted by the sin of slavery.  Yet Dr. King dared to dream a dream.  He dared to dream a dream of freedom and fundamental fairness.  He dared to dream a dream of equality and equity.  He dared to dream a dream of being judged “not by the color of [one’s] skin but by the content of [one’s] character.”  Dr. King dared to dream these most American of dreams. 

He devoted his life to the singular pursuit of making these dreams come true.  He courageously pursued integration over segregation, hope over despair, and love over acrimony.

Dr. King recognized that we are all in this grand American experiment together.  He recognized that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  And he recognized that the destiny and the freedom of all Americans are “inextricably bound” together.  So he led Americans of all races, colors, creeds, origins, and backgrounds to “end the long night of racial injustice” through dignity, moral courage, and righteous determination.

Dr. King’s legacy looms especially large for us here at the Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division.  We take great pride in knowing that, in July 1958, the year after the Civil Rights Division was founded, Dr. King described the Division as an “important arm of our democracy” that promised to millions of African Americans the protection of their basic freedoms.

Every day we at the Civil Rights Division are honored to carry on this fundamental work of our democracy and to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws, including the laws that Dr. King fought for.  We work zealously to combat hate crimes, to end the scourge of human trafficking, and to guarantee the equal rights and equal access of all Americans at the ballot box, in housing, in education, in employment, in public accommodations, and in criminal justice.

This crucial work has changed the country for the better, and our commitment to it will never falter.  But on this day of commemoration, let us remember that pursuing a more perfect union requires the continuing commitment not only of the Department of Justice, but also of every single American.  Let us draw institutional and individual inspiration from Dr. King’s invitation to achieve liberty, justice, fairness, and equality for all Americans.  And let us resolve to take fewer days off, and many more days on, for community service and for each other.

We at the Department of Justice are honored to be led in these efforts by an exemplary and esteemed public servant.  Throughout his career, Attorney General Sessions has fought for equality, liberty, and justice for all Americans.  He is a principled and tireless leader of the Department of Justice and a great and valued supporter of the Civil Rights Division.  Please join me in welcoming the 84th Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions.

Updated January 16, 2018