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Remarks of Chairman William E. Kennard
Federal Communications Commission
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observation
Boston, MA
January 18, 1999

Thank you, Mayor Menino, for that kind introduction and for inviting me to Boston. Before we begin, I want to thank Boston and all the people of the 8th district for sending Michael Capuano to Washington. He is a talented public servant, who, I am sure, will have an impact in Washington in this Congress and in the years to come.

36 years ago in a jail cell, hundreds of miles from this beautiful hall in which we meet today, sat Birmingham, Alabama's most famous prisoner, Martin Luther King. Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker, who we are so honored to have with us today, can tell us of the dark, dank cells of Birmingham because he was in them. He can tell of us of the hate and the fear of the Deep South so many decades ago, because he was there and he stood up to it. But for all of us who were fortunate not to suffer in Alabama and blessed to reap the fruits that Dr. King sowed for us, we are left with Dr. King's famous, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Writing on scraps of newspaper sneaked into the jail by his friends, Dr. King made the case for full civil rights for African-Americans and for using nonviolence to get them. In reading his letter over the years, this one statement has always touched me. Dr. King wrote that the American people, "are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

Here in Boston, you are heeding King's lesson. Mayor Menino, the City Council, local businesses, labor unions, and the entire community have come together to build "One Boston," a city where all the people are connected to each other and connected to the opportunities of the future.

Two years ago, President Clinton and Vice President Gore issued a challenge to wire every school to the Internet by the turn of the century. Everyday, we at the FCC work hard to make this vision a reality.

Growing up as a Lakers fan, I should have known that when issued a challenge, Boston rises to the occasion. So now, I can say proudly that I am in the first big-city in America to wire all of its schools to the Internet.

Not only have you linked your schools to the Net, but now with your new empowerment zone, you are working to bring the high-skilled, high-paying jobs of the Information Age to the "hub" of Boston. You are linking the people of this city together and providing them with the chance for a better future. You are honoring Dr. King's vision.

You are once again a "city upon hill," an example for the nation and for the world. Thank you.

- FCC -