Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., quoted Martin Luther King's 1967 "Other America" speech while speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday calling for improvements to a K-12 education bill moving through the Senate.
In his speech, King talks about two Americas. In one, a majority of Americans have great schools, housing and opportunities. The other America is full of poverty and despair.
"The greatest tragedy of this other America is what it does to little children. Little children in this other America are forced to grow up with clouds of inferiority forming every day in their little mental skies. And as we look at this other America we see it as an arena of blasted hopes and shattered dreams," King says in a section of the speech quoted by Booker. King explains that people in this other America come from all kinds of racial backgrounds, but that the largest group in proportion to its total size is African-Americans.
"We cannot...abdicate our responsibility to make sure every student, to make sure the students in that other America are being served by a quality school," Booker said.
Booker's speech called for more federal accountability in K-12 education. He praised the efforts of education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Ky., and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Wash., to get a bipartisan education bill to the floor, but called for more fixes to the bill. "There is an enormous amount of work still to do," Booker said.