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Holt: We have not yet fully delivered upon the promise of equal opportunity for all



Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt speaks at the Lincoln Memorial for the 60th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt was invited to speak at the 60th anniversary gathering of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech Aug. 26 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Here’s a transcript of his speech:

Good afternoon. I am David Holt, and I stand here today as a mayor. America’s mayors are united in our passion to achieve equal opportunity for all who live in our communities. 

I also stand here today as a member of the Osage Nation, a people whose experience runs parallel with so many in this country who have fought against bigotry.

I also stand here as the mayor of Oklahoma City, the capital of a state that has seen darkness and light. The Trail of Tears, the Race Massacre of 1921, the Reign of Terror against the Osage and the bombing of 1995. But also, the hometown of Ralph Ellison, one of the greatest minds to ever engage against the evil of racism. The home state of 39 sovereign tribal nations — most of which did not choose Oklahoma — but are nonetheless thriving today. And Oklahoma City is the hometown of courageous champions for civil rights.

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In 1958, Oklahoma City schoolteacher Clara Luper led a group of 13 children — some as young as 7 — to sit at a lunch counter in downtown Oklahoma City, where they asked to be treated like human beings. They were among the first anywhere to sit down, so that others could finally find the courage to stand up. Ms. Luper and her young people were still hard at work when they came to this March on Washington in 1963 and stood right where we stand today. They were reinvigorated as Dr. King extemporaneously composed a new dream for our nation.

Clara Luper and her sit-inners still inspire us in Oklahoma City, and their journey to this place in 1963 was no coda, it was a continuation. So, too, is our gathering today.

We are here today because we know we have not yet fully delivered upon the promise of equal opportunity for all Americans, and we are here today to resolve that our work will continue. It will require commitment and strength to realize our aspirations. 

More:Guest: In a world of echoes, Oklahoma, we can be the dream

Millions of Americans have stood right here and dreamed of what could be. Let the sanctity of this place and the power in this gathering lift your soul long after you have returned home, just as it did in 1963. The moral arc of the universe does not bend itself. We must resolve to see this through, together.

May God bless and strengthen all of us. Thank you.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt speaks in July at the State of the City at the Oklahoma City Convention Center.
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