Rep. Kristine Reeves’ speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.
(text as prepared)
As the daughter of a single mother,
I grew up in and out of foster care.
I was homeless and often hungry.
So I have KNOWN poverty.
But I have also known HOPE.
My grandfather was a World War Two veteran,
a Tuskegee trainee who married a strong-willed red-head from Idaho.
He was a contractor, a mason, who worked hard every single day
to provide for his family.
But that hard work didn’t protect him from racism or bigotry.
And it didn’t protect his children or his grandchildren.
Yet my grandparents instilled in me a powerful notion:
anyone can grow up to be anything they dream to be.
Even a member of the House of Representatives.
I stand before you as the product
of this state’s investment in the American Dream.
That dream wouldn’t have happened without the suffering and sacrifice of Dr. King and those who marched beside him.
Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone.”
He blazed a path so we could walk together,
marching toward a world free from racism.
Free from hatred.
Free from bigotry.
That walk, that march, it wasn’t easy for him.
And it wasn’t easy for those who walked with him.
It took courage to face beatings.
It took bravery to march on despite death threats and arrests.
And the work he started will never be finished.
The spirit of Dr. King lives on inside every person
with the courage to stand up for what they believe in.
It lives on inside all who put faith
in the notion that every hard-working human being,
regardless of race, color or creed,
should be treated with respect.
That word … FAITH … deserves fresh meaning
in this time of political division.
Some lost their faith … whenever Dr. King was attacked.
And many more lost faith when Dr. King was assassinated.
But Dr. King never lost his faith—
not his faith in God,
not his faith in the cause
and not his faith in the people who walked beside him.
Because we CANNOT alone, we must all march TOGETHER.
And I’m not talking about legislators, Madam Speaker.
Dr. King proved that the work of the civil rights movement
isn’t about us.
It’s about children and working families.
Laborers and farmworkers in the Columbia Basin.
Bus drivers bringing our kids to school.
Teachers like my sister-in-law
The grocery clerks at Fred Meyer who put up with my kids.
In every corner of this great state, working moms and dads
are just trying to pay the mortgage,
put food on the table,
and save enough money to send those kids to college.
That’s the promise and the dream of America:
It doesn’t matter what you look like.
It doesn’t matter where you come from.
It doesn’t matter where you worship.
EVERY family deserves a chance
to work hard and make it.
We cannot lose sight of the people we serve
in the work that we do in this chamber.
Dr. King believed “what connects us is stronger than what divides us”.
So we must keep faith in ourselves.
And in each other.
I still remember the lessons Dr. King taught me
as a little girl growing up in Moses Lake.
A girl who finds herself
here, in this chamber,
working in the People’s House.
I still have faith.
I still remember the dream.
And I will not walk alone.