Some, like Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., narrowed in on King’s call for the attainment of the elusive American dream: “We must continue to strive for justice for all as envisioned by Dr. King, and work to ensure that the American Dream remains a possibility for all Americans. Dr. King was a true inspiration, and I thank God for his courage and leadership that has changed our nation for the better.”
Others kept things short and sweet, perhaps just seeking to go on the record with a nod to the famous civil rights leader.
Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., sent out a statement of just three sentences: “Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most powerful and significant speeches in the history of our nation. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital, he stirred and inspired the hearts of Americans with his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Today, we honor his amazing legacy and strive to live out the principles he championed.”
And then there was the statement from Republican State Leadership Committee President Chris Jankowski, who sought to connect King’s words with the future of a “big tent” Republican Party.
“We must work together as a nation to open the doors of opportunity and leadership, and we must each do our part to recruit and support new leaders to run for office from underrepresented communities across the country,” Jankowski said. “We know our party, and much more importantly our nation, works best when we invite everyone to the table to solve our nation’s problems.”
In Jankowski’s statement, “everyone” is italicized and in bold lettering.
The most powerful statement of the day might have come from Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who was nearly beaten to death during Freedom Summer and spoke at the march 50 years ago.
“Sometimes I hear people saying, nothing has changed,” he said Wednesday, “but for someone to grow up the way I grew up in the cotton fields of Alabama to now be serving in the United States Congress, makes me want to tell them, come and walk in my shoes.”
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.