Clinton: MLK did not 'live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock'

Former President Clinton on Wednesday railed against political gridlock and bickering, saying that Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy demanded that Americans come together to confront the challenges of the times.


"I would respectfully suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock," Clinton said. "It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back."

Clinton noted that there still existed racial disparities in income, crime and unemployment levels, and said that the country "cannot relax in our effort" toward equality. He specifically cited healthcare, saying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act would end discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, or who could not afford insurance.

Clinton also made a nod toward fights over the Voting Rights Act, as well as the Obama administration's attempts to advocate for new gun controls in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

"A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon," Clinton said.

The former president also paid tribute to the efforts of civil rights leaders who gathered on the National Mall 50 years ago.

"This march and that speech changed America," Clinton said. "They opened minds, they melted hearts and they moved millions."

Clinton said those gathered Wednesday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial owed a great debt to "those people who came here 50 years ago."

"The choice remains as it was on that distant summer day 50 years ago: cooperate and thrive, or fight each other and fall behind," Clinton said.

"The great irony of the current moment is that the future has never brimmed with more possibilities. It has never burned brighter in what we could become if we push open those stubborn gates and if we do it together. The choice remains as it was on that distant summer day 50 years ago, cooperate and thrive, or fight with each other and fall behind."