Office of the Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer
For Immediate Release: March 7, 2015
Contact: Mariel Saez 202-225-3130

Hoyer Remarks at 15th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage Welcome Dinner

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered the following remarks at last night's welcome dinner for the Faith & Politics Institute's 15th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. This year, the 3-day tour visiting Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery, Alabama, will honor the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“Thank you Saint John. What a wonderful experience this is for all of us. We owe [Representative] John [Lewis] and Doug [Tanner, Founder of the Faith & Politics Institute] for what they achieved in the past and for all that they continue to do today through the Faith & Politics Institute. Thank you for welcoming us to your state and hometown, [Representative] Terri Sewell, [Representative] Martha Roby, and [Senator] Jeff Sessions.

“This is my tenth visit with John Lewis, and it moves me every time I come here. I also want to recognize three Civil Rights heroes who are with us this weekend: Bettie Mae Fikes, Bob Zellner, and Dorothy Cotton.

“Let me also say, Bettie [Mae Fikes] brought students who are here this weekend up onto the stage with her this evening. One of the students lives in my county, St. Mary's County. Mia Moore, thank you for joining us. She's going to take a lot from this experience and make a difference.

“Each visit is more powerful than the last. None of us would be traveling on this pilgrimage if not for John [Lewis].  He's been the driving force behind the pilgrimage. It’s a living testament, it's because of him [that] Selma has a consecrated place in our history.

“John [Lewis] and Doug [Tanner] have reminded us of it every day. Because of John and many like him, who refused to be silent or complacent and chose instead to stand up and move forward to take the country on a journey.

“Their focus was always fixed on freedom. Fifty years ago in Selma, America marched over a bridge. That bridge was not crossed easily or in a day. Today we continue to march on, as Ferguson so compellingly demands that we do. Still, over troubled waters, we are one nation, under God, indivisible. I’m glad that we have so many Democrats and Republicans with us on this pilgrimage. 

“John [Lewis] thank you for inviting us, [for] recognizing the bipartisan nature of standing up for civil rights, human rights, and voting rights. They are American values. Thank you John [Lewis] for continuing to inspire us in Congress.”