Over the course of the Administration, we’ve observed many significant anniversaries in the fight for equality across this great nation. We commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic I Have a Dream speech. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty and our continued commitment to addressing poverty and income inequality across America, as well as fifty years since the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act. This year, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
Earlier this week, I spent some time with Congresswoman Terri Sewell in Alabama. I had the opportunity to walk across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where, 50 years ago, the men and women of the civil rights movement etched out their place in history as they faced intense hostility and hatred with love and nonviolence.
At USDA, we strive to honor the legacy of those brave individuals and live out Dr. King’s creed more fully each and every day. Over the past six years, we have corrected past errors, learned from mistakes, and charted a stronger path for the future. I am proud of what we have accomplished to help overcome a troubled history of discrimination at USDA, but we are not finished. We want to be helpful in making sure the story of the fight for equality and justice of which Selma is such an important part is preserved and continued through our rural development efforts. We are working to build a more diverse Department that stands ready to serve all customers with dignity and respect, no matter what.
Without question, discrimination and poverty are still part of the lived experience of too many Americans, particularly in the rural communities USDA serves. We continue to listen, engage and transform to better serve every American and move out from under the shadow of prejudice and injustice. Today, I am proud to say that USDA is standing on the right side of the promise President Lincoln made to the American people 150 years ago. Today, I am proud to say that we are truly the “People’s Department.”