I am thrilled to be here today
with you to help honor Dr. King. Haverhill is a city on the rebound
and we are happy to have you here.
In the last election, we heard
a lot about moral values and moral issues. Unfortunately, we
heard very little about the real moral issues of the day. The
great moral issue of the day, as it was the great moral issue
when Dr. King was alive, was and is the issue of civil rights
in America . President Kennedy taught us this when he introduced
the Civil Rights Act of 1963 and said this is not a black
issue, this is not a white issue. This is a moral issue.
James J. Fiorentini
Over 40 years, when Dr. King
talked of his dream of one America, an America where black children
and white children are treated equally, the values in that dream
were moral valuesbut we heard very little talk about those
moral values in the last election.
When a child goes to bed hungry,
ill housed, ill clothed or ill fed, that is a moral issue.
When for millions of Americans,
Dr. Kings dream of one America , an America of tolerance,
when that dream remains only a dream, that is a moral issue
Sixty years ago this very
month, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in what some have called
the greatest speech of the 20 th century, proposed a second bill
of rights that would guarantee to all Americans the rights to
decent health care, to a decent job, and to decent housing. When
that remains only a dream to millions of Americans, when all
too many of our people are still ill housed, ill clothed and
ill fed, that is a moral issue and should offend our moral values.
When millions of Americans
are denied a decent place to live, these are moral issues and
should offend our moral values
When even to this day, there
is a pay gap between white and Afro-Americans for the same jobs,
when studies show that equally qualified Afro-Americans are less
likely to be hired than their white counterparts, this is a moral
I have lived long enough,
in 58 years, to have seen, to have been a cheerleader and an
onlooker in the greatest struggle for moral values in our lifetimes,
the struggle for civil rights. It was my greatest thrill, when
I was a young college student, to have gone down to the Boston
Common and to have seen Dr. King, as I know many of you did.
And when my children were
little and asked about monarchs and Kings, it was my greatest
thrill and honor to tell them that one day, I had walked with
To those of you who led that
struggle, to those of you who marched, or participated in any
way, you led the fight for moral values, you led the greatest
struggle for moral values in our history and to those of you
who participated, to those of you woke up America and woke up
our conscience, to those of you who helped us see that the struggle
for civil rights is a struggle for moral values, thank you and
welcome to our great city.
*Source: City of Haverhill,
Massachusetts Web Site: www.ci.haverhill.ma.us 2-16-05