KDP Statement on MLK Day 2021
The following is a statement from Colmon Elridge, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party:
For many, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, is a day off.
Yet, the rhetoric of the last four years, culminating in the domestic terrorist attack on our capitol, was not new to our nation. Citizens of color have known that terrorism from slavery, to the trail of tears, internment camps, to the genocide in Tulsa, to the fight for civil rights and the right to vote, the fight for equal education, the fight for equal justice under law from Emmitt Till to the Central Park Five, the brutal murders of black and brown Trans Women, and even more close to home, the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor and the end of no knock warrants.
When Gov. Andy Beshear recommended me to become the chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, the first person of color to serve in this role, he did so and I accepted, understanding that it would both be celebrated and unearth some of the worst among us. Indeed, for all of the well wishes, the very next day, while pumping gas, a man with a slew of anti-democratic party stickers on his car proclaimed loudly, “that’s him…that’s that nigger that Beshear backed”. As my children sat in the back seat looking confused, I opened the door and said to them “this is why we keep fighting”.
And so I say to you, we must keep fighting!
As a party, we must continue to fight with all we have to defeat inequality, racism, and all forms of discrimination. We have not always done all we could have. We can no longer afford to treat communities of color like a voting ATM and then ignore their plight until the next round of elections only to be confused as to why some, who should be allied with our cause, are skeptical of our motives.
We must keep fighting because we know that unequal access to healthcare means, for communities of color, higher death rates in everything from cancer, to COVID, to deaths during childbirth. If America is truly to care about life, the healthcare of communities of color must matter. That is why Gov. Beshear’s outreach to communities of color during this COVID crisis has been so important. It is a governor putting his people first.
We must keep fighting because we know that unequal justice under law has meant that our Attorney General can lie to a grand jury, without consequence, seemingly denying justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor.
We must keep fighting because we know that the rights of freedom of speech and the peacefully assembly are ignored when the President of our State Senate weeps on the floor of that body because a group of college athletes kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to the plight of racial injustice, but says nothing as one of his colleagues, Rep. Attica Scott, was erroneously arrested and detained for exercising her constitutional right to peacefully protest and seek justice.
We must fight because COVID has shown that, regardless of race, poverty is more real than ever and has meant for many families not knowing where their next meal will come from, how they will keep a roof over their heads, or put enough gas in the car to get to work. In the greatest nation in the world, the gap between the rich and the poor should not continue to be one of the highest in the world. We should be able to ensure that the dignity of work is met with a dignified income.
Today and every day, we must do all we can to make freedom ring. That work is not easy, but it is necessary.
That work might make us the target of white supremacists, of demagogues, or terrorists. To them we say “go to hell” but also we must be clear that their version of America is never going to take root.
Today is not a day off and neither is tomorrow.
We can never rest in the struggle for freedom.
That is how we honor Dr. King and that is how we make America great.
And today would be a great day for justice for Breonna Taylor.