Florida lawmakers mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington

St. Petersburg Times - Aug. 29, 1963
St. Petersburg Times - Aug. 29, 1963
Published Aug. 28, 2013

Florida lawmakers reflect on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Rep. Alcee Hastings: "The countless sacrifices and efforts of previous generations have made it possible for blacks and other minority groups to break longstanding boundaries in our society and excel. When I look back on my lifetime, I am still awestruck at how a young boy who grew up in a poor Jim Crow Florida town could grow up to become a Member of Congress for the very same state and live to see the time of an African American president in White House. It has been a true blessing to bear witness to these extraordinary times and, while the struggle to achieve equality for all continues, it is remarkable to reflect on the progress that we have made as a nation over the past half-century.

"As we mark this historic anniversary, let us remember those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. We must never forget our history and what the civil rights movement represents. Today, I join with Americans everywhere in paying tribute to all those who keep the spirit of the civil rights movement alive, and look forward to the day when prejudice and hatred have finally been abolished from our nation forever."

Rep. Alan Grayson: "The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed racist poll taxes and literacy tests, passed not-long after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. This Act has protected the fundamental right of our democracy, the right to vote, from discrimination for nearly five decades. But a recent Supreme Court decision and newly-passed laws implemented by state legislatures have placed the right to vote under significant new restrictions. This is unacceptable. The right to vote must be protected."

Sen. Marco Rubio: "I have taken my own children to the Lincoln Memorial, and shown them where Dr. King spoke to the unfulfilled promise of our nation. Standing in that place, I was filled with pride to know my children live in a nation where the cultural landscape is dramatically different from the one that Dr. King saw just 50 years before.Dr. King reminded us that opportunity and freedom are American ideals, belonging to no singular demographic. His message and legacy must live all around us, and his dream must continue to lead us as we move toward America's brightest days.