January 21, 2019

Duckworth Commemorates Martin Luther King Day in Rockford

Senator joins Rockford Ministers Fellowship Community Celebration


[ROCKFORD, IL] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Pastor Joseph Dixon and hundreds of community members today at the Rockford Ministers Fellowship Community Celebration. During the celebration, Duckworth spoke in honor the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and highlighted the importance of following King’s calls for service and compassion in working toward justice. Photos from the event are available here.

Duckworth’s remarks as prepared are below.

Hello everyone! Thank you to Pastor Dixon, Congresswoman Bustos, Mayor McNamara and this whole community for welcoming me this morning.

On a hot summer day in 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr. looked out onto the crowd at Soldier Field and called our state to action:

“[We’ve] come here today to remind Chicago”—and all of Illinois—“of the fierce urgency of now… [For] now is the time to make real the promises of democracy... Now is the time to let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Even as the temperature swelled to 98 degrees, the crowd swelled to thousands. They withstood the heat to hear his words…

Then marched by his side the two miles to City Hall, unwavering in their belief that the freedoms they were fighting for were worth every bead of sweat that rolled down their foreheads… were worth even the threat of violence that loomed over every step of that 10,000-foot march.

Here in Illinois, and when crisscrossing the nation, Dr. King asked us to imagine a better, fairer tomorrow.

He talked about justice, and of the great big power of even the smallest acts of kindness.

He spread the message that if America was to become that more perfect Union our founders dreamed of, it would need to value compassion over might—a desire to be good over a need to be great.

And finally, he spoke of the importance of serving others.

His words ring just as true 50 years later, no matter if that service takes the form of marching for civil rights in the South or serving lunch to the homeless here in Rockford… wearing our country’s uniform overseas or picking up a hammer to rebuild a tornado-ravaged home down in Taylorsville.

Today, in an era when appeals to tribalism seem to be growing louder by the hour, it’s on each of us to re-pledge ourselves to Dr. King’s vision.

To reject the calls to divide us, recommitting ourselves, instead, to bringing about his greatest hope: a world where no walls separate us from one another, but where we will all sit down together at that “table of brotherhood” he dreamed of.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died for his convictions, and for his compassion. So now it’s on us to “make real those promises of democracy” he spoke of five decades ago.

United. As one. Tied together in what he called that day a “single garment of destiny”—bonded by a desire not just to do well for ourselves, but to do good in service of each other.

Thank you again for having me here this morning.