This birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is truly at the intersection of history. Today we herald a great Civil Rights leader on the eve of a major accomplishment of the Movement--the inauguration of President-elect Obama. I am proud to walk through doors opened by Dr. King and so many other freedom fighters. At such a time as this, we are encouraged by his legacy; not to glorify in the past, we must be emboldened by the present in order to build a better tomorrow.
While the gains of the Civil Rights Movement have uplifted every American, Dr. King should not solely be remembered for bringing together the races. Dr. King should be recognized as a champion for economic equality and inclusion. Economic prosperity remains a dream for our generation. The time is now to right the wrongs and pave a smoother path for our children. On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when the Ohio unemployment rate is 7.3% and the national unemployment rate is 6.7%, we must commit ourselves to Dr. King's vision of America.
I, like Martin Luther King Jr., "have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits." Every day that I walk the halls of Congress, I think of our neighbors who must do without due to a shrinking employment market and a strained economy. My sole concern is what will happen to our community, to our families, to our children if we do not reverse the job losses. As I take up the banner of economic equality, my goal is to deliver money directly to the local communities and create jobs for the everyday people in our communities.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which I support, is encouraging. It begins the process of creating jobs, strengthening our cities, and improving our communities. Dr. King's last crusade was to save the jobs of Memphis sanitation workers. At this very moment, our crusade should not only be to save the jobs of Ohio public servants, but also the unemployed private sector workers and the chronically unemployed. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act will create and retain much needed jobs.
It is my most sincere hope that our president-elect and the 111th Congress will meet the challenges of this very difficult and decisive hour in our country. As we remember Martin Luther King Jr. this year, 2009, we must recommit ourselves to fulfilling his last campaign--economic equality. So that way we will all be truly free at last, free at last.