Former President Bill Clinton encouraged attendees at the National Action Network’s (NAN) annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Breakfast to continue their strong activism for causes they are passionate about despite opposition from powerful forces.
“There are no permanent victories or defeats in public affairs,” Clinton, who served as U.S. president from 1993-2001, said to an audience of roughly 200 during the Jan. 20 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Northwest. “Do not grow weary in fighting for what is right and don’t doubt it can be done. Give our kids the future they deserve.”
Clinton said America at its best exemplified inclusive tribalism and said “we like diversity.” He noted that all Americans, despite differences in political ideology and beliefs, have a core belief.
“We should all live under the same set of rules,” Clinton said.
Clinton received an award for his life’s work from the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAN founder and president. Sharpton noted that he and Clinton disagree at times on issues but they “were on the same highway going the same direction but in different lanes sometimes.”
Cathy Hughes, founder and chair of Urban One; Kenneth E. Rigmaiden, general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Joan T. Mulholland, a former Freedom Rider; Karine Jean-Pierre, a political organizer and activist; and Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Parkland shooting incident in 2018 and a gun violence prevention activist, also received awards for their work.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) spoke at the event, saying she appreciated the work of NAN and the Congressional Black Caucus for its support of D.C. statehood.
Martin Luther King III spoke also, agreeing with Clinton in principle “that the power is with the people.”
“Let’s keep on working,” King said. “Remember, hate will not make America great, it is love that will make America great.”