MLK Day: In Spirit of the Man Who Resolved to ‘Struggle for a New World’

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By Marc Morial
President & CEO, National Urban League
Making Change Work for Us


President Obama’s final State of the Union this week and its message of embracing change struck a note of hope for the future. Especially relevant was his call for Congress to reject “the dogmas of the quiet past.”

However we are to move forward in this rapidly evolving nation, we must accept ourselves as we are – diverse, vibrant and aching for opportunity. Our leaders and aspiring leaders must put aside fantasies of ‘past glories’ and focus on the brilliant future that awaits us.

Many of the proposals outline by the President tonight reflect policies that the National Urban League long has endorsed. Universal pre-kindergarten, hands-on computer science and math classes and teacher recruitment and training are vital for preparing America’s students for college, work and life.

As the President noted, the nation needs a new “moonshot” – harnessing the spirit and innovation that took the United Space to the moon and directing it toward the technological challenges of our day. To solve those challenges, we must nurture the next generation of leaders.

The President’s speech also was a forceful, passionate defense of his record.

Eight years ago, the nation was teetering into a full-blown depression. Today, the unemployment rate is the lowest in nearly a decade. Millions more Americans are employed, millions of Americans have health insurance. He’s led us from the brink of economic collapse.

As one who was honored to meet Pope Francis during his recent U.S. visit, I was deeply touched by President Obama’s quoting of the pontiff: “To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”

There can be no more important message of peace for the world today.

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