Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Cindy Ryu’s maiden speech honors Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 17, 2011

OLYMPIA—State Rep. Cindy Ryu today devoted her first speech in the House of Representatives to honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ryu (D-Shoreline), who serves the 32nd Legislative District, said that she and many other lawmakers would not be in the Legislature if Dr. King’s dream had died with him. She is the first Korean-American woman to serve in the state Legislature.

Ryu quoted a Korean translation of a line from Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech to show that his dream continues to inspire people throughout the world. She also urged fellow lawmakers and visitors in the gallery to remember that Dr. King shared his dream in times of trouble like we are facing today, but he still dared to dream. Ryu concluded by saying she believed we will reach the goals that Dr. King shared, “if we don’t let go of the America of our dreams.”

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Following is the text of Rep. Ryu’s speech honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., as it was delivered:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

I’m proud my first speech in this House is about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his dream.

As the first Korean-American woman to have the honor of serving in this House, I know in my heart that I would not be here if Martin Luther King’s dream had died with him

Many of us would not be here.

He dreamed of an America with freedom, opportunity, justice, and full civil rights for all. He dreamed of an America where what counted was the content of a person’s character. And Americans listened.

In fact, the whole world listened.

지금 나에게는 꿈이 있습니다.

[Ji Keum Na Ae Gae Neun GGeum E It SSeum Nee Da]

That is “I have a dream today” translated into Korean. I say it to remind us that Dr. King’s dream has been translated into many languages around the world. And it still inspires people around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I know these are hard times. This recession doesn’t feel like the dream. And we have not yet reached (the goal of) full civil rights for all. But let’s remember what Dr. King said when he shared his dream.  He is speaking to us today as we remember and celebrate his life.

May I quote very briefly from his “I have a Dream” speech, Mr. Speaker?


“I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties and frustrations of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream! It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream!

End quote

Dr. King said there would be bends in the road, even when we are moving forward. He also said that we will reach our goal.

I believe we will, if we don’t let go, of the America of our dreams.