David Parker, candidate for North Carolina Democratic Party's state chair position issued this statement today to commemorate the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Opposition candidate Bill Faison has yet to issue any statement today. Parker wrote:
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A single score and five years ago, we, as a people, began formally celebrating MLK as a voice crying in the wilderness for human dignity. And like John the Baptist before him, and so many others of our heroes, he was cut down before he could see the small saplings of freedom that he planted bear much fruit. We have had to overcome much to get this far on the journey. Jesse Helms fought this day. But we overcame him. And now his disciple, Art Pope, is seeking to reverse years of work in North Carolina. But we shall overcome him and his henchmen too.
Each of us has stories about our journey on the path of MLK. In these last few days, I have talked with two remarkable women who fought on the front lines of the battle in the 1960's and who will be with us in Raleigh on January 29th.
Margaret Herring of Wilmington whose story is told in the Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC which she was kind enough to sign for me, and Mary Ellen Phifer Kinton of Kannapolis who was active with the Brooklyn CORE working for equality in the workplace and in society. Margaret is white; Mary Ellen is African-American. They were joined across time and sang "we'll walk hand in hand" together, although they have never met. They will meet, though, through our North Carolina Democratic Party and I am proud to have their support.
My own story is modest, but I have joined in the overcoming. In 8th grade I spoke for Hubert Humphrey in my school and found that being a Democrat in a Nixon-Wallace dominated environment meant that my friends were few, were racially diverse, and were dear. In high school, I was a part of the integration of Wake County Public Schools. I can remember singing in our Choral Ensemble songs with fellow SEC member Winnona Swayze. That progress in diversity in Wake County is now threatened by the Jesse Helms - Art Pope disciples.
I supported former mayor of Chapel Hill, Howard Lee for Lt. Governor in 1976. The first political campaign I helped manage was that of Bill Thorpe, who in 1977, was elected as the first African American council member in Chapel Hill.
There are many, many stories in my life which space will not allow, but I want to be clear: I have been unwavering and that perseverance may explain the remarkable diversity in my endorsements and supporters in this campaign.
We lost fellow State Executive Committee member, and former State Auditor Ralph Campbell last week and celebrated his life this past weekend. The lack of racial diversity among our statewide office holders is deplorable and I will do everything possible to see that our nominees look more like our Party. But it is not enough to simply say that we need another African American member of the Council of State: we need racial balance and equality in all levels of our party and government. As our next State Chair, I intend to recruit more candidates of all walks, of all creeds, of all colors, of all orientations, of both genders to hold office -- that truly is the "change that works" that we seek in becoming a better North Carolina and a better Democratic Party.
The dreams of the past fallen heroes cannot fade in our memories or wither with the passage of time. It is up to us to fulfill the aspirations of the witnessing spirits that surround us every day as we fight for racial and civil justice in America.
Thank you in sincerity as we celebrate this great day,
Thank you, David Parker. Your awareness and history of working to insure the rights of everyone is why we endorse your candidacy for state chair. We wish you success in the NCDP state party's chair race.