Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Leadership Event

January 16, 2023

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Happy King Day, everybody. (Applause.)

So, I'm here with Secretary Cardona, our Secretary of Education, and we wanted to come here to thank you all and to highlight the work that you all have been doing.

And our table here, I think it's table number one, we've been having a very extensive conversation about why each of you has decided to use your role as leaders to invest in the future of our country through our children.

You know, I have always, in the many offices I've held -- and I have held a few -- when I do policy work, I will almost always challenge my team when we're talking about any issue. And it varies from -- you can imagine -- technology, to what are we doing about climate, to what are we doing about -- you name the subject.

And I will challenge them by asking to test the relevancy of our work. Tell me -- and think first, and then tell me, "How will this affect a child?"

Ask that question always, when anyone is presenting what they believe to be the greatest idea or plan for the moment or the future for our country: "How will it affect a child?"

And because of the work that you each have been doing and are doing today, you will be able to help answer that question with honesty and accuracy in a way that will challenge us to think about the direction we are headed as a country, consistent with Dr. King's dream about who we are and who we should be.

Because Dr. King, of course, the day we celebrate -- and the day we celebrate, capturing the spirit of who he was and what he wanted, which is we celebrate it then as a day of service -- is to understand the possibilities that have been yet unachieved which we must work toward, the ideals upon which our nation was founded that we still have yet to achieve but we get closer each day when we believe in what is possible.

And you all, as students, here have dedicated yourselves to that approach, to your leadership in our world, in our country. And it is a noble pursuit.

I believe that we measure strength not based on, you know, if you flex, what does that look like -- (laughs) -- but I think the greatest measure of the strength of any individual will be revealed based not on who you beat down, but based on who you lift up.

If you ever question your reason for being, what is your purpose, whether it matters -- and I know I'm preaching to the choir right now -- the answer will come when you realize the impact you can have on another human being, by everything from a kind word to doing what you all have been doing. It's extraordinary. And it's an extraordinary sign of the strength that we each possess and, when we do it as a community, the impact that we can have on our world.

So, in the spirit of Dr. King Day, I say thank you to all of you. I know when I look at the students here, our future is bright. So keep doing what you are doing. Our nation and our world are counting on your leadership. So, thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.)

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Leadership Event Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/359398

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