Donna Brazile Presses on to Realize MLK's Dream

2/27/2013, 10:52 a.m.

A recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's highest award for political achievement, Brazile said plenty of work remains.

In an emotional speech Feb. 7 at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Northwest, Brazile spoke of the importance of Black History Month and she also spoke fondly of her late father, Lionel Brazile, Sr., whom she recently lost.

"When I think of my father, of how proud he'd be of his little Donna speaking to the Veterans Administration, and of what he went through," Brazile said.

"My father's life was a journey on that freedom and equality road. He walked it every day, sometimes running, sometimes stumbling, but he never got lost, never went down a side street or a blind alley. He always knew the sign posts, and always knew which way to go, which path led to freedom and equality."

Brazile said she's still reeling from the loss of her father, a decorated Korean Warveteran, and, most recently, her sister. But, she said, the fight to realize King's dream continues.

"Round numbers give us a sense of completion. So we celebrate them," shesaid. "[It's been] 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, 50 years since the March on Freedom. But those dates and those events are not islands unto themselves. It is a long day's journey to the crossroads, where the signs point the direction that says 'this way freedom and equality, that way the opposite."

Brazile noted that the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on Jan.1, 1863 despite being announced three months earlier on Sept. 22, 1862. She said the Constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, 1787, but it took 75 years before "We the people" included African Americans.

"There were in our history many half-steps and false steps," she said. "The Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott Decision and Amistad, which ironically means friendship in Spanish, a ship carrying 54 Africans to a life of slavery. They freed themselves, but ended up imprisoned in America, waiting for the Supreme Court to decide if they were salvage property or free human beings."

Brazile said so much of the dream is still just a dream. "We are not yet an oasis of freedom and justice although, in some ways, the re-election of Obama is more significant than his election four years ago," she said.

"I say this not because I'm a Democrat," Brazile said. "But, because this time, the dog whistles of racism were called out and condemned by people of faith and goodwill on both sides of the aisle. So, as we move forward on issues such as immigration reform, and on reducing gun violence that is killing our children and stealing our souls, as we come together to confront the challenges of energy, economy and environment, we must remember that we are moving forward as well toward that more perfect union."