Statement from Rep. Jamila Taylor, chair of the Black Members Caucus, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

“On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am reminded of this quote from Dr. King’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. It has been a difficult year, one that has tested us all. From the restrictions and tragedy of COVID-19 to the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the fierce urgency of the Black Lives Matter protests, the world’s eyes have been opened to what many have known or experienced for generations.

“Meanwhile, in the midst of a global pandemic, more deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police set off a national protest that lasted weeks, even months in some cities. Everyday people, our neighbors like you and me, are demanding justice for victims of police violence and change to our laws to better protect Black and Brown communities.

“The response to the global pandemic this past year has also revealed the systemic acceptance of other unnecessary and unjust systems. Governments shut down communities, businesses, and travel as a way to stop the spread of a deadly virus but expected people to survive without adequate income. Black and Brown essential workers continue to put their lives and health on the line while those very communities are dying at a much higher rate.

“We have seen victims, families, communities, and advocates stand up for their right to live. We have seen hope rise up in the millions of people who stood up and declared that ‘Black Lives Matter.’ And we have seen Washington legislators respond by listening to our communities, working together, and by prioritizing racial equity in its policymaking. Most notably, lawmakers are introducing new bills to make real change in our state’s policing procedures.

“As chair of the Black Members Caucus, I have the privilege of working with the largest group of Black legislators in state history. Our focus is on addressing the very real concerns of our communities by demanding racial equity in our government, justice in our laws, and budget decisions that are community-focused.

“During this 105-day session, it is on all of us to ‘make real the promises of democracy’ by listening to our constituents, standing up for the rights of the oppressed and persecuted, and changing laws in this state to bring about the racial healing we desperately need.”