Monday, January 21, 2008

"My Father Would Be Proud"

After the rally at IBEW in Atlanta on Saturday, John Edwards went to a private meeting with Martin L. King, III. Today, the campaign released a letter from King (posted below). I will be honest to say that I have wondered about the wisdom of Sen. Edwards staying the course in this race. I've tried to figure out his strategy, tried to figure out what path he sees to the nomination, but tonight, as I listened to the debate, and then, as I read this letter, it is now clear to me that Edwards continued presence in this race is not about "strategy." It's about justice. I believe that there would have been little discussion about poverty in this race had he not voiced it. As he said tonight, campaigning about poverty doesn't necessarily win you votes-but it's the right thing to do. Doing what's right, no matter the cost, is what transformational leadership is all about.


January 20, 2008

The Honorable John E. Edwards
410 Market Street
Suite 400
Chapel Hill, NC 27516


Dear Senator Edwards:
It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father’s legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father’s legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.
I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.
You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don’t have lobbyists in Washington and they don’t get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.
I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.
From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.
I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.


Sincerely,
Martin L. King, III

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