Remarks of Greisa Martinez Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

United We Dream Press Releases

Washington, DC – Today, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC – leaders joined together in celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The ceremony was sponsored by the Advancement Project, the Washington National Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese.

Below are comments prepared by Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director of United We Dream:

My​ ​name​ ​is​ ​Greisa​ ​Martinez​ ​Rosas,​ ​Iam​ ​the​ ​daughter​ ​of​ ​Luis​ ​and​ ​Elia​ ​Martinez.​ ​I​​ ​​am​ ​undocumented​,​ ​unafraid​ ​and​ ​here​ ​to​ ​stay.

​I​ ​serve​ ​as​ ​​the​​ ​​Advocacy​​ ​​Director​​ ​​of​​ ​​United​​ ​​We​​ ​​Dream,​​ ​​the​ ​largest​​ ​​network​​ ​​of​ undocumented​ ​immigrant​​ ​​youth​​ ​​in​​ ​​the​​ ​​country.

For​ ​nearly​ ​10​ ​years,​ ​we’ve​ ​helped​ ​undocumented​ ​young​ ​people​ ​come​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the shadows​ ​of​ ​fear​ ​and​ ​of​ ​oppression​ ​-​ ​to​ ​get​ ​filled​ ​with​ ​hope,​ ​to​ ​find​ ​community​ ​and​ ​to have​ ​faith​ ​that​ ​our​ ​dreams​ ​could​ ​come​ ​true.

For nearly 10 years, we’ve followed in the footsteps of Dr. King and in the footsteps of those who preceded him on the path of righteous non-violent resistance We have followed in the footsteps of Dr. King and have created a beloved community amidst the chaos, the hate,and the jails.

I​ ​came​ ​to​ ​the​ ​US​ ​when​ ​I​ ​was​ ​a young girl​ ​with​ ​parents​ ​who​ ​I​ ​consider to be​ ​heroes.​ ​Together with​ ​my​ ​mother​ ​and​ ​my​ ​father​ ​-​ ​a​ ​baptist​ ​ministers​ ​-​ ​we​ ​came​ ​to​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​fleeing violence,​ ​hunger​ ​and​ ​hopelessness.​ ​We​ ​found​ ​refuge​ ​for​ ​our​ ​dreams​ ​and​ ​hopes​ ​in​ ​​ ​the US​ ​and​ ​built​ ​our​ ​home​ ​in​ ​Texas.

My parents worked hard to provide for us – both materially and spiritually. They established in us a moral compass pointed towards service in the name of God’s love.

Growing up, we heard what some politicians would say about us on television. That we were to blame for all of this country’s problems +++. And we would experience those same words in action from the police and from those who believed in the hatred of their words.

But my parents’ unending faith in God and unending belief that what we did by crossing the icy Rio Grande waters was courageous. They kept us together and kept us strong.

Today, I am protected from deportation because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – DACA – which protects not just me, but my sister and almost one million other young people.

I want you to know that the program was created because for years, immigrant youth, our parents, our community and allies from all backgrounds engaged in non-violent peaceful resistance to unjust deportation policies. I am protected from deportation today because we followed in the footsteps, legacy and teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We have been driven by the words of Dr. King:

La oscuridad no puede sacarnos de la oscuridad. Solo la luz puede hacerlo. El odio no puede sacarnos del odio. Solo el amor puede hacerlo.

Darkness doesn’t drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate doesn’t drive out hate; only love can do that.

Today, my brothers and sisters – there is terror in immigrant communities and so many others because in just a matter of days, a man will be sworn into the highest office who has promised to send armed federal agents to my home and force my mother, my sisters and I out of the country at gunpoint. Who has promised to kill DACA which protects me from deportation, depriving me and countless others of our ability to make a living and provide shelter and security not just for ourselves, but for our families.

Today, I stand here in strong opposition to that agenda of darkness and that agenda of hate.

And today I call on all people of faith, all people of conscience to rise up in a wave of light and love of community.

It is time to rise up in opposition to men who would drag back the clock on civil and human rights to a time when people of color in this country were disenfranchised and abused without recourse.

It is time to provide sanctuary for one another. In homes, in communities of faith, in schools, in cities and in states. Sanctuary is sacred, sanctuary is love in action. And sanctuary must be created and defended with all of our God given might.

Dr. King wasn’t one to mince words and I won’t now. Immigrants, refugees, black people, people of color, women, people who identify as LGBTQ need to know that all of you will rise up. We need to know that you will defy an unjust state if the President of the United States and his supporters systematically begin making moves to strengthen the screws of white supremacy. It is a time of action and we must act.

Because no matter what dreams some political leaders might have about my sitting down, shutting up, getting locked up, deported or living in fear. I’m not going to do it. And I need to know that you are with me.

We have come too far.

At United We Dream, our slogan is that we are Here to Stay.

Because you know what, I AM Here To Stay. We are ALL here to stay and we are ready to build a bright, multi-racial and powerful future with all of us.

I want to close with a song that I love. I’ll ask that you simply repeat after me:

We have come too far
We won’t turn around
We’ll flood the streets with justice
We are freedom bound.

We have come too far
We won’t turn around
We’ll flood the streets with justice
We are freedom bound.