Twelve score years ago our Founding Fathers sought to establish a more perfect union, a union where all are equal. Seven score and thirteen years ago President Lincoln declared that union was still flawed and work was left to be done. Two score and thirteen years past Dr. King painted a poignant picture of a beautifully diverse future where all are equal. A short eight years ago then candidate Obama powerfully admonished us to again take up the cause of ending and fighting against racism and to no longer ignore its ills and poison. Today I am declaring to you the work is not yet completed. If it is a mountain we are crossing then we are still within spitting distance of the base instead of being able to even glimpse the summit on the far horizon. All men and women, regardless of race, gender or any other status or creed, are endowed with inalienable rights, of which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately we find ourselves today standing on a precipice upon whence we can view just how tragically these rights are deprived of for many citizens in our country.
I pen these words from a state where this is overtly true. The statistics of those imprisoned in my state are especially evidentiary of this fact. Oklahoma is 70% white but the penal system here is only 49% white. Hispanics make up only 9% of the state populace, but 15% of the prison population. African Americans account for a mere 7% of my state but they fill 26% of the prisons. This is found similarly across the nation. How can a people be free when they are grossly disproportionately imprisoned? I would say to you they cannot! We must reach high to our better angels to find a better way. For we cannot truly be free until all in our land are equally free.