Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2024

Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I was just a few years old when I heard Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington. But like so many, I was captivated by his words, including its famous final refrain, taken from an old spiritual: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

I later learned that Dr. King spoke of that freedom a few years earlier, too, when in 1957, he travelled to Ghana for Africa’s first independence day. He described the overwhelming emotion of seeing the Union Jack come down, and the new Ghanaian flag go up: that feeling of, “free at last, free at last.”

The tie between those two moments in history, an ocean apart, crystallize Dr. King’s belief that struggle for justice in America is inextricably linked with the struggle for justice in Africa, and across the globe.

And though I didn’t know it then, as a young Black girl attending a segregated school in Louisiana, that belief would become the guiding light of my entire career. Every day, I show up to the United Nations hoping to work in Dr. King’s image: to use my platform as United States Ambassador to stand up for human rights and democracy, equal opportunity and racial justice, education and economic development, climate justice and, of course, food security.

I have seen first-hand that progress is far from linear – and our work is far from done. But I am proud to be part of an Administration that believes that we must, as Dr. King wrote, “never grow weary in doing what is right, for if we do not give up, we will reap our harvest in due time.”

And so, as we celebrate what would have been Dr. King’s 95th birthday, let us all recommit to doing what is right: to realizing his vision of true and lasting freedom, here in America, and around the world.