By Jueseppi B.
White House Tweets – August 26, 2013
— The White House (@whitehouse) August 26, 2013
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
05:00 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is part of a series of blog posts written by Administration officials in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Read more here.
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington, he described a “fierce urgency of now.” He reminded a divided nation that we need one another, and that we are stronger when we march forward, together. “We cannot walk alone,” he said. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
A half century later, Dr. King’s words have renewed meaning.
For every little boy or girl in America whose health lies in the balance, there is an urgency of now.
For every one of our neighbors who lives day-after-day in fear because they do not have insurance, there is an urgency of now.
For every mom or dad who has faced bankruptcy because of a mounting medical bill, there is an urgency of now.
Without the opportunity to live a healthy life, there is no opportunity to live the American dream or participate fully in our communities. Without the freedom which comes from having access to quality health care, there is no freedom to reach our full potential in the workforce or watch our kids or grandkids grow up. Without the security of health insurance, there is no economic security for middle-class families, and so many other families working their way into the middle class.
The time for division and debate has passed. Now is the time to march forward.
“Of all forms of injustice,” Dr. King told the Medical Committee for Human Rights, “injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
In 1965, the same year the Voting Rights Act became the law of the land, we came together as a nation to create Medicare and Medicaid.
My father was serving in Congress at the time. He was very involved in the Civil Rights movement, and in fact he was good friends with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (and one of the legends of the era.)
My dad strongly supported the Voting Rights Act, and he helped write the Medicare and Medicaid laws. He saw all these struggles as connected to the broader goal of a more perfect union.
Today, this legacy continues. The Affordable Care Act is the most powerful law for reducing health disparities since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965.
It provides the 85% of our neighbors who currently have insurance with new rights and protections under the law.
For the 15% of our neighbors who do not have coverage (or who buy coverage on their own and would like better options), a new Health Insurance Marketplace will open for enrollment starting October 1, with benefits starting January 2014 (for more information on your new options visit www.HealthCare.gov).
So talk to your family, friends, and neighbors. Partner up with trusted resources in your communities, like community health centers and local libraries. Be a champion for coverage with other civic and business leaders who are stepping up in your communities.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, we are one step closer to fulfilling the promise, freedom, and opportunity for millions of Americans to live a healthy, secure life.
Millions of Americans—our families and neighbors—can’t afford for us to turn back. They are counting on us to march ahead. And we will.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of Health and Human Services
01:52 PM EDT
Today, August 26th, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day. We commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. It’s hard to believe that less than 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote. Advocates such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells devoted decades of hard work to ensure that women’s voices could be heard. As a result, historic change occurred, forever transforming our nation as we took another step toward a more perfect union.
This past year, I received a very special birthday present from President Obama. He gave me an original copy of two historic documents—the “petition for universal suffrage,” dated January 29, 1866; and the Congressional resolution for the 19th amendment— “extending the right of suffrage to women,” dated May 19, 1919. Over half a century passed between the petition and women actually receiving the vote. And goodness knows there were numerous setbacks along the way. Many who started the journey handed the baton to others to finish it, but the effort continued, and was ultimately successful.
I share this to remind you—and myself—that in the era of tweets and texting, the fierce urgency of now must also be tempered with patience, grit, determination, persistence, resilience and courage. So change often takes time.
This year, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, where Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a crowd of hundreds of thousands, and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Among those visionary civil rights leaders were courageous women, like Dr. Dorothy Height, whom you can see standing on the podium supporting Dr. King as he speaks.
Whether through the Women’s Suffrage Movement, or the Civil Rights Movement, we are reminded of those women, and men who have worked so hard to make our country more equal. We look back at our history to inspire our future.
As President Obama said in his Second Inaugural address earlier this year:
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall.”
And just last week, in advance of today’s anniversary, the President paid a visit to Seneca Falls, New York, where the First Women’s Rights Convention was held in 1848, launching the movement for women’s equality. Today, the site is home to the National Park Service’s Women’s Rights National Historic Park. He acknowledged the leadership of the women celebrated in our history, and made a contribution of his own to that history – he presented the Park with a copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first bill he signed into law, making it easier for women to bring forward pay discrimination claims, as well as a copy of the remarks he made during the bill signing ceremony.
His visit last week, and the progress we celebrate on Women’s Equality Day, reminds us all of the work that remains to be done, and the commitments we are making to achieve a more perfect union for all our people. The White House Council on Women and Girls, and all of our federal agencies are making strides every day to make sure all of our programs, policies, and our staff reflect the needs and concerns of women and girls. And President Obama is leading the way – here are just a few of the key issues we continue to work on:
A more equal future means women should have access to quality, affordable health care, and without being discriminated against by health insurers just because they are women. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women will no longer be charged more for health insurance just because they are women, and they are guaranteed to have coverage for things like maternity care, screenings like mammograms, and contraception services. Now we have to make sure that women and their families know about these benefits, and are get informed about the easy choices they will have starting October 1 to get coverage on terms that work for them and their families.
A more equal future includes ensuring fair pay. Today, women still earn on average just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, and African- American women, and Latinas earn significantly less. We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. But President Obama isn’t waiting for that to happen, which is why he created the National Equal Pay Task Force, which is cracking down on equal pay violations at a record rate.
No one can be truly equal when they are in fear for their safety. President Obama was proud to sign into law earlier this year the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Since Vice President Biden initially authored the legislation as a Senator in 1994, VAWA has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence nationwide, and given more women and girls the chance to live healthy and secure lives.
On this Women’s Equality Day, we honor those who fought tirelessly for a woman’s right to vote, but we know that there is much more work to do. Let us keep marching forward together.
Statements and Releases August 26, 2013
President Obama, President Clinton and President Carter to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday August 28th
11:10 AM EDT
This Wednesday will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial; a moment which served to punctuate a movement that changed America.
To honor this occasion, President Obama will be joined Wednesday, August 28th, by President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, members of the King family and other civil rights leaders and luminaries at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate Dr. King’s soaring speech and the 1963 March on Washington.
As we mark this important anniversary, we reflect on what the Civil Rights Movement has meant for the country, and perhaps most importantly, the hard work that lies ahead as we continue to pursue the ideals laid out by Dr. King, and sought by the hundreds of thousands of Americans who marched through our nation’s capital fifty years ago.
This event is open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 AM, for an 11:00 AM program start on Wednesday, August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial. Guests arriving after 12:00 PM are not guaranteed admittance. In order to access the venue, you must enter from the east side of the Reflecting Pool, on 17th street, near the World War II Memorial.
For more information on the 50th Anniversary Let Freedom Ring Ceremony and Call to Action Event at the Lincoln Memorial please visit http://officialmlkdream50.com/august-28/.
For more on this event including complete schedules for Tuesday & Wednesday …..
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