Brothers and sisters, a moment of silence in honor of our friends, Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Please take the hand of the person next to you. Let us honor a senator of principle, and passion and purpose. He was inclusive, a bridge-builder. Let us rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace and justice that Paul always fought for.
My brothers and sisters, Dr. King’s heart would be lifted to see so many drum majors for justice gathered here today in the name of nonviolent resistance. Thank you for taking your place today in the long, historic chain of struggle.
Dr. King would be especially happy to see so many young people, energizing a new peace movement in America. People often say the young are our future; but I beg to differ. The young are our present.
When two Jewish students and one black college student went to Mississippi in 1964 for Freedom Summer, they paid the highest price–but Mississippi moved. Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney. Let them serve as a model for our movement. When a small group of African-American youths sat down at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960, and refused to leave, Americans were transfixed. The soul of America was transformed.
When Dr. King led the Montgomery bus boycott, he was only 26. The whole world changed. And when I first marched with Martin, at Selma in 1965, I was only 23 and he was still only 36. Dr. King taught me that times of crisis were also times of opportunity–that politics could be redefined, society turned upside down, if young people acted on behalf of the moral center.
When young Americans move, the world moves.
Without vision, the people perish.
Without vision, we end up with division.
Two years ago, George W. Bush campaigned on the idea that he would bring back unity, bipartisanship and a change in tone to our national politics. Now he campaigns on division, Republican partisanship and a change in regime in Iraq.
I say we should finish the fight we’re already in, before we start taking on another invasion and occupation. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.
When we act out of fear, rather than hope, we get bitter rather than better.
That’s true for America. Acting from fear, we make the world nervous.
It’s also true for us. Acting from fear, instead of hope, we create division and make our movement weaker.
As we assemble our coalition of conscience, we must not let the diseases we fight against infect our movement.
Say no to racism. But don’t stop there.
Say no to sexism. Don’t stop there.
Say no to anti-Semitism, to anti-Muslimism. Say no to homophobia.
Our movement must reflect the healing we seek.
We know the dangers if we go to war. Death, waste, suffering, hatred, blowback.
“Collateral damage” to innocent Iraqi children. To our own soldiers, many of them minorities and poor. To the American economy, with a war’s $2 billion cost.
There is a time to every season under heaven. A time for war–World War II, which saved us from fascism; the Civil War, which saved the Union and freed the slaves.