Video: Full remarks from Rep. Kelly Chambers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The full video and transcript is below.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House.
This day has always been special to me, and I am honored to have the opportunity to speak this morning.
You know, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was always my favorite day of the year when I was in school because it provided an opportunity to honor an American hero and bring everyone together. As a school, we did our very best to honor Dr. King’s legacy. It mattered to us.
Every year, we would sing Melba Moore’s ‘Lift every voice and sing’, and if we were in person, I might suggest we do the same today.
At the same time, if you’ve ever heard my caucus sing ‘happy birthday’ over Zoom or Teams, you would probably thank me for not making them sing anything at all. Their talents clearly lie elsewhere, but I digress…
In all seriousness, this an important day for our nation and for all of us who care deeply about living the values of Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a day to reflect not just on the past, but on the future.
Dr. King was a giant of a man. He was fearless in the face of some of the worst persecution a person can possibly endure. And he was ultimately murdered for relentlessly pursuing a future for our country in which it lived up to its promise of equal rights for all.
Many in this chamber remember exactly where you were on April 4, 1968. It’s forever seared into your memory.
Last year, when I was in Tennessee for my brother’s wedding, I went to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Dr. King was assassinated. As I stood there, I remember thinking about how far we’ve come since that day, but also how much work there is left to do.
And it is critical that do this work together. We must learn together and grow together and give each other grace.
Too little grace is one of many things plaguing our nation right now. We talk over each other, we get egged on by the loudest voices in the room. We seize on perceived gotcha moments, shutting down debate in the process and further entrenching people to their respective sides.
We are hopelessly addicted to divisiveness, and it’s ruining us.
Every year since 2001, the polling firm, Gallup, has asked the following question: “Would you say relations between White and Black people are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad.”
Last year, the number of White and Black adults who answered “very or somewhat good” dropped to the lowest levels since Gallup began asking the question 20-plus years ago.
This is a devastating development.
I believe all of us were uniquely and wonderfully made by a creator that loves us more than we can possibly imagine. If only we could love each other the way He loves us.
I know the issue of race is a difficult one. It always has been in our country. We have to acknowledge that. But we as lawmakers cannot contribute to the divisiveness. We have to come together. I understand the politics involved in what we do. I understand the risk in giving credit to the other side for anything. But you can’t fix what’s broken if you’re the one breaking the pieces.
So let’s come together this session and remember there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Let’s honor the life and legacy of Dr. King by using the unique gifts, talents and abilities God has given us to work with one another on even the most difficult issues, and make a positive difference for our state.
I know we can do it.
I am so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to serve in this body and work with each of you. It is truly an honor.
Thank you very much.
###Washington State House Republican Communications