Hattiesburg Mayor, Johnny Dupree gave the following speech today, August 28 2013 at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the March on Washington on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The following is the full transcript of the speech he gave, along with the video of the speech:
I want to thank the National Conference of Black Mayors, and the coalition for the opportunity to make a few remarks on this historic occasion.
Decades and decades of blood, sweat, tears, organizing meetings, sit-ins, jailings, boycotts, negotiations, adjudications—all culminated in a march. This march would change the lives of millions including people like me.
If someone would have told me that this country boy who grew up in a shotgun house on a dirt road in Hattiesburg, Mississippi would be a mayor, I would have sworn they fell off the turnip truck. Our house and my cousin’s house were next door to each other so we called it a double-barrel.
Some of you all may not know what a Number 10 tub is, but I’m sure many of you all in my generation remember it very well (smile). That’s where I come from.
From playing with rocks because my mom couldn’t afford a ball to being entrusted to lead the fourth largest city in Mississippi. We, many of the people in this room, have been entrusted to make the lives of the people we serve, better.
Our theme is “Freedom to Prosper. Freedom to Co-Exist. Freedom to Govern.”
African American elected officials, and Black mayors in particular, must now create ways to govern after being elected.
You know, at one point, the struggle was to gain citizenship. Then to register to vote. Then to vote. For a brief period in time during Reconstruction, African Americans held elected office, but Jim Crow quickly ended that.
Now, one of the challenges before African American, minority, and women elected officials is the freedom to govern.
We must do locally what President Obama was able to do nationally with organizations like Organizing for America and Organizing for Action.
We must go back to the individuals, groups, pastors who helped get us here, and encourage them to make their voices heard and to push our collective agendas forward!
We are afforded an awesome opportunity to be here.
We have this opportunity because of the people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who did not quiver or retreat in the face of injustice.
It is because of those who remained sitting when they were demanded to move.
It is because of those who sang when they were threatened with their lives to be silent.
It is because of those who marched on—even though they were weary and bloodied. One foot in front of the other. One song after another. One city after another until they did what many said would not be done.
Together, we must march on—strengthened and encouraged by our past, and led by the light of our faith—we will march on.
~ Mayor Johnny DuPree