Thirty years ago, a then-19-year-old Stacey Abrams spoke to a crowd of 50,000 as one of the youth speakers at the 30th Anniversary March on Washington.
Now, on the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Abrams, who has since become a national figure in politics and voting rights advocacy, finds herself still calling for people to live King’s legacy. This time, Abrams was speaking at TIME’s Honoring the March: An Impact Family Dinner, an event held at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, in partnership with American Family Insurance.
“The conversation that we have been having for 60 years is about what we are marching towards, who we are marching for, and what we are marching with,” Abrams said to the more than 100 attendees. “[King] did not simply march, he worked. He did not simply talk, he did. And he did not simply dream, he became.”
Below is a full transcript of Abrams’ speech:
I was considering what I would say tonight and I started thinking about time. It was 30 years ago that at the age of 19 which seems so long ago I was tapped to be one of the youth speakers at the 30th anniversary of the March on Washington. I stood on a stage in front of 50,000 people gathered in commemoration and in rededication.
It was 25 years later that I stood for the office of Governor in the state of Georgia, dedicated to the notion that every voice needed to be heard, every life needed to be celebrated, every mission needed to be made real. And it is now today, 30 years after the first time I had this conversation that I stand before you. I stand before you because the conversation that we're having today, the conversation that we have been having for 60 years, is about what we are marching towards, who we are marching for, and what we are marching with. Who we are marching for are those who do not believe that they have the right to dream, who do not see themselves in the epic nature of what we are as a people. Those who have dismissed the idea that there is anything in this nation for them. We march for them. Why we march is because we have to not let our feet get tired. We march because the relentless pursuit of evil must be met by the patience of good. Why we march is because we have no choice but to do better and be better. And how we do it is together. We do it by coming together in rooms like this, but more importantly by putting our shoulders to the grindstone, our feet to the pavement and our minds to the belief that more is possible.
I am honored to be here with you tonight celebrating and honoring the March, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But I close with this edict. He did not simply march, he worked.
He did not simply talk, he did. And he did not simply dream, he became. And so we must live his legacy by living the March every single day. And together we can march towards that dream. Thank you so much.
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Write to Mariah Espada / Atlanta at firstname.lastname@example.org