Representative Sandra Hollins gave the following speech at the 25th Anniversary celebration of Utah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.
“As a member of the Utah House of Representatives, I am honored to stand before you celebrating the legacy of a commission whose mission is a reflection of a man that dedicated his life to promoting diversity, equity and human rights. Thank you to each of the founding members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission for your vision and leadership that continues to guide new generations and develop an appreciation in them an understanding for human rights and equality. That is the strong foundation on which I now proudly stand.
As the first Black American woman elected to a state level position in Utah, my journey was made possible partly because of your contributions and sacrifices. You have dream of what we could and should be as a society and you continue to work towards making that dream a reality.
You dared to be drum major for social justice. Each of us in this room has it within us to be that drum major – that power to make change. Change starts with our own self reflections and challenging our systems of belief. Let your life be a reflection of what you want to see in the world.
I believe in a society where everyone is invited to the table to be involved in the decision making process. I believe in a place where our political leaders and our government reflect the diversity in this community. I believe in a community where everyone can live without fear that our fundamental rights as human beings are being violated. These beliefs are critical right now as we face an atmosphere of discrimination against those of the Muslim faith. We must not allow hate or discrimination to go unchallenged.
As Utah continues to become more diverse, our ability to deal with the changes will determine if we grow stronger or if we will be divided. Our actions today determines our tomorrows. We are the hope and dreams of past generations. What are your dreams for the future? What are you willing to do to make it a reality?
As a little girl, I remember listening to the adults around me discuss politics, the state of our community and the civil rights movement. At the time, I was ignorant of the role my family played. It wasn’t until later that I learned my relatives stood on the front lines demanding their civil rights, fighting for the rights of others, fighting for the future. When I made the decision to run for office, a relative and leader in my community challenged me by saying ‘Don’t you ever back down when it comes to fighting for equality and justice. This is who we are. This is our family.”
It is my family. My great great grandfather was born a slave but died a free man. He learned to read, write and do math. He knew the power in being educated and worked to ensure that his children and all children of color knew and harnessed that power. That was his passion. He knew if we could change the path of one child we could change the future.
What is your passion? What will you a drum major for? What are you doing to protect human rights, to advance the dream of Martin Luther King? One person can start a transformation. One person can be the change we all need to make our world better. The future generation is counting on you.”
The 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Commission was held in the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on December 10, 2015.