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Struggle A Continuation Of Civil Rights Movement

By Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez 

WASHINGTON -  Today, I want to talk about two important words: Hard Work.

I want to talk about the men and women who clear the dishes in restaurants.  The man who supports his family by working as a janitor.  The women bent over sewing machines making our clothes -- the women caring for America’s children – the families picking America’s fruit. 

It’s hard work. Yet immigrants come to our nation to work at dangerous and sometimes demeaning jobs, to face the risk of discrimination and deportations.

They come to do hard work.   

On TV news, we don’t see many pictures of the immigrant sweeping the floor in the hospital or caring for a sick child. 

But we see lots of pictures of scary invaders jumping over fences.   Of prisoners in handcuffs. 

For too many people, the two words that come to mind when they think of immigrants are:  Go Home. 

It’s our job to replace them with two words that tell the real story: Hard Work. 

The people who marched to this spot 47 years ago knew something about hard work. 

Because the struggle for fairness, for justice, for freedom is hard work too.  

Protecting our civil rights is hard work. 

And our immigrant struggle for civil rights is born of the African American struggle for rights. 

The Latino and immigrant struggle is not a reinvention of the civil rights movement, it is the continuation of the civil rights movement -- growing bigger, growing stronger, picking up new allies along the way, helping each other and letting "nobody turn us around."

We cannot achieve justice for immigrants without the words and actions of Dr. King and his brothers and sisters. 

You don't get Cesar Chavez without Martin Luther King.

You don’t get Sonia Sotomayor without Thurgood Marshall.

You don't get Roberto Clemente without Jackie Robinson.

You don't get Comprehensive Immigration Reform – without the Civil Rights Act. 

But we did get Sonia Sotomayor.  And Roberto Clemente.  And Cesar Chavez and – together – we will get Comprehensive Immigration Reform too. 

People always say the struggle is too hard, the goal too far away. 

But we know that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

We know it’s true.  We’ve seen it.   

It used to be illegal for workers to form a union. 

It used to be illegal for women to vote.

It used to be illegal for blacks and whites to attend the same schools. 

But because we did the hard work – the arc of the moral universe bent.  It bent toward workers' rights, and voting rights and housing rights. 

But right now – today -- it is illegal for millions of people who live in this country – who have children born in this country -- to work and dream and have the full rights -- and full responsibilities -- of citizenship in America. 

We are here today to work hard to keep bending that arc until it watches over every immigrant. 

And I won’t stop fighting until we turn on the news – even Fox news – and see pictures of immigrants doing hard work that makes America great. 

The fight for justice and jobs and civil rights is a movement.  It is a family.  A family of workers.  Of gays and lesbians. Of Asian-Americans.  Of African-Americans. Of women.  And of every single immigrant to our nation. 

Abraham Lincoln, the man we built this memorial to, understood it already 150 years ago – A nation divided against itself cannot stand. 

So together – together -- as a family – we will rise up, we will stand and we will run toward justice for every American - whether they were lucky enough to be born here or ambitious enough to come here on their own.

It’s hard work, but we can do it. 

Thank you all. 


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC , LATINO , MEXICAN , MINORITY , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , DIVERSITY , LATINA , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY

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