How impressive is it that more than half a century after his passing, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can still rally people in pursuit of a more just and equitable society!
Today, we celebrate and reflect on the life and work of Dr. King – a distinguished leader of the U.S. civil rights movement.
I am honored to commemorate his legacy in the company of so many people who represent the rich diversity of Honduras, and who, like Dr. King, work every day to promote freedom and equality for all Hondurans.
When we think of Dr. King, his fight to create equality between the races in America immediately comes to mind.
Without a doubt, that was a primary goal for Dr. King.
But it is important to stress that Dr. King’s legacy goes far beyond race.
Dr. King dreamed of a world where everyone regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation, could fully enjoy their rights.
And of course, at the U.S. Embassy we continue to do everything possible to promote diversity and equity both externally and within our own institution.
I am proud to say that our staff at the Embassy is more diverse than ever.
We have both local officers and employees whose roots are in the Afro-descendant community.
Likewise, we have a better representation of women and people from minority groups among the Embassy team.
I want to offer you an example of one of our officers, Mercedes.
She herself is Afro-descendant and before becoming an officer, she was introduced to the Garifuna culture at university and was inspired to move and work for several years on the Honduran coast.
Now that she has come back to Honduras as an Embassy official, Mercedes is strengthening our policies and programs based on her personal experiences and her professional experience.
U.S. foreign policy is strengthened by the diversity of perspectives, experiences, and cultures of the staff who support us at our embassies around the world.
This is an example of Dr. King’s legacy in action.
We praise Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech – when he called on America to make equality, liberty, tolerance, and justice a reality for all – since with that hopeful vision, the barriers began to fall and the intolerance began to be reduced.
Although much remains to be done, he managed to change the laws to respect the rights of all American citizens, but more importantly, he also changed hearts and minds.
The progress made in Honduras to promote diversity in leadership positions is also encouraging.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Luther Castillo Harry is an example of this.
He not only shares his name with Dr. King but he is also an admirer of his teachings and legacy.
The Afro-descendant diaspora is represented in Congress with four deputies and one substitute deputy; and at the level of municipal corporations with a mayor and a councilor.
The Director of Human Resources of the National Police and the Inspector General of the National Police occupy some of the highest ranks within this institution.
And for the first time, an Afro-descendant lawyer has run for Supreme Court Justice.
We are certainly seeing the change that Dr. King proposed that day.
But this was not an easy task.
Despite the achievements we have seen, our work is not done.
Admittedly, there is much more to do.
Dr. King promoted a society where the rights of each person are respected, where oppression is eliminated, where everyone can access opportunities, and where citizens understand that when they come together to improve their society they can achieve positive change.
These are the essential principles of a true democracy.
And they are the values that Dr. King dedicated his life to realizing.
The Embassy is supporting the Afro-descendant community in Honduras, encouraging greater political participation, increasing access to justice, contributing to inclusive economic growth, investing in improvements to the educational system, and promoting social inclusion and respect for human rights.
But the work of achieving a fairer and more equitable democratic society is shared.
As Dr. King said, “This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is the time for vigorous, positive action.”
Honduras, now is the time to build the “community of love” that Dr. King envisioned, and that every Honduran deserves, a just and equitable Honduras.