Monday, January 26, 2015

Statewide Power Outage Information

Visit this link provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency: http://mema.mapsonline.net/public.html to see the latest information regarding power outages across the state.

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Governor Baker Declares State of Emergency/Travel Ban

With the impending snowstorm that is expected to hit later this evening, Governor Baker has announced a State of Emergency and a statewide travel ban. Posted below is a press release that was distributed earlier today with further information:

Governor Baker Declares State of Emergency Effective Immediately
Governor signs State of Emergency, announces statewide travel ban effective at midnight

Boston - In preparation for the approaching blizzard set to severely impact the Commonwealth, Governor Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency, effective immediately, to ensure statewide resources are available for preparation and quick response for all cities and towns.  Speaking at a press conference today at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Governor Baker announced that state offices and MBTA service will be closed on Tuesday and issued a statewide travel ban effective at midnight:

"We have declared a state of emergency for the entire Commonwealth to make sure every city and town is prepared and has access to the necessary resources for the upcoming storm.  We encourage the public to make the appropriate preparations, stay alert and make plans to safely commute home this evening.  As the storm progresses, we will work closely with the National Weather Service (NWS), Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), National Guard and local authorities, assuming all necessary precautions to keep people safe."

A statewide travel ban will be effective at midnight. The travel ban will be lifted by county based on road conditions. 

"As the storm approaches, the people of the Commonwealth are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and frequently monitor alerts and updates from the MEMA and the NWS, especially through social media in the event of power outages.  Our goal is to make sure the Commonwealth safely weathers this storm in every county, which requires preparation and cooperation from all," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

The citizens of the Commonwealth are encouraged to check www.mass.gov/mema for critical updates and direct general questions to the 24-hour citizen information telephone line by dialing 2-1-1.

The following actions and precautions were announced by the Governor at MEMA Headquarters this afternoon:

STATE OF EMERGENCY – EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: Governor Baker has signed a Declaration of Emergency for Massachusetts ensuring state resources are available and coordinated for storm preparation and to enable swift response among the state, cities and towns. The state of emergency declaration will allow expedited use of state resources, the ability to request and receive mutual aid assistance from other states or the federal government if needed, the immediate procurement and deployment of goods and services necessary for response and other actions as considered necessary by the Governor. The state of emergency shall remain in effect until notice is given in the Governor’s judgment that it is no longer necessary.

STATEWIDE TRAVEL BAN – EFFECTIVE AT MIDNIGHT: Governor Baker has signed an Executive Order allowing for the enforcement of a statewide travel ban effective at midnight. The following exceptions shall exist for the ban and all drivers are encouraged to remain safe and use their best judgment:

·         Essential emergency response professionals

·         Medical, healthcare and human service workers, including shelter personnel

·         Essential public transit and support workers

·         Public and private personnel supporting public works and utility operations

·         Essential state employees

·         Those traveling for essential medical procedures

·         Vehicles and personnel delivering essential supplies to healthcare facilities.

MBTA CLOSURE – TUESDAY, JANUARY 27th: MBTA service will remain open during regular business hours today. Tomorrow, the MBTA will be closed. Services are planned to resume Wednesday, and additional announcements will be made by noon Tuesday. 

STATE OFFICE CLOSURES – TUESDAY, JANUARY 27th: The Governor has directed that non-emergency state employees working in Executive Branch agencies should not report to their workplace on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 due to weather conditions.  State offices are scheduled to be open on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.  Employees should continue to check Mass.gov or call 211 for additional updates and cold weather safety tips.

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Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home

With a major snowstorm that expects to hit the region tonight through Wednesday that projects between two to three feet of snow, it is important to take necessary steps to ensure we are all prepared in an emergency.  The best way to protect yourself, loved ones, and your property is to plan in advance before one strikes. 

All households should have a contact list of emergency numbers posted next to a working phone. In case of a power outage, most cordless phones will be unresponsive, so it is advisable to keep a backup phone with a cord in a close and safe place. While emergency calls should be directed through 911 it is a good idea to keep other numbers in an accessible location. Some numbers to be placed on that list include your local non-emergency numbers for the police and fire departments, nearest hospital, town hall, and your electricity and gas provider’s area telephone number. National Grid's customer service number is 1-800-322-3223.  Additionally, to report a power outage, please call 1-800-465-1212, and to report a gas leak, please call 1-800-460-1595. Comcast can be reached at 1-800-266-2278 and Verizon’s help service line is 1-888-553-1555.

Also, today MEMA has distributed the following press release regarding storm preparedness. It provides a helpful list of important precautions that every household should take.

MEMA’S TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR THE STORM

FRAMINGHAM, MA – “Before the arrival of the storm this evening, it is important that you take the proper steps to ensure the safety of your family and home,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt Schwartz.

             Ensure your Emergency Kit is stocked with supplies to enable you to survive on your own for at least three to five days. There should be a first-aid kit, essential prescription medicines, non-perishable foods (those that require no refrigeration such as canned goods, dried fruits and nuts), a manual can opener, water (one gallon per person, per day), flashlights and extra batteries along with a portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio, baby-care or pet supplies items, extra blankets, sleeping bags and a fire extinguisher.

             Ensure that your Winter Emergency Car Kit is well stocked to keep you and your vehicle safe.

             This storm has the potential to bring widespread power outages, so take the opportunity to fully charge your cell phone, laptop, and any other devices in advance of a power outage.

             Those along the coast should be aware of potential flooding.  Pay close attention to directives from your local public safety officials.

             Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.

             Gas up you automobiles because many local filling stations may also lose their ability to pump gas.

             Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app to your smartphone to receive important weather alerts and messages from MEMA. Easy instructions are available at www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

             Trim dead tree branches and limbs close to your home. Ice, snow and wind can combine to snap limbs that can take down power lines or damage your home.

             Clean gutters. Melting snow and ice can build up if gutters are clogged with debris. When thawing begins, the water can back up under your roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.

             Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

             Ensure that your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are working correctly and have fresh batteries. Check your outside fuel exhaust vents, making sure that they are not obstructed by snow or ice. Never use cooking equipment intended for outside use indoors as a heat source or cooking device.

             Have sufficient heating fuel, as regular sources may be cut off. Have the option of emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can safely keep at least one room livable. Be sure the room is well ventilated.

             To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.

             Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.

             If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage. Ensure you have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices.

             If you have life-support devices that depend on electricity, contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of an emergency. Some utility companies will put you on a "priority reconnection service" list. Talk to your equipment suppliers about your power options and also let the fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.

             Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community if you need it. Register in advance with the local emergency management agency, the local fire department, other government agencies or non-profit groups. Tell them of your individual needs or those of a family member and find out what assistance, help or services can be provided.

             If you use in-home support services, Meals-on-Wheels, Life Alert or other support services, work with them to personalize emergency preparedness plans to meet your needs so you can keep in touch with them during and after an emergency. That contact may be your lifeline to other services in a disaster.

             If you have or may have transportation needs, work with local transportation providers and/or disability services (e.g., Paratransit, Independent Living Centers) to plan ahead for accessible transportation.

             Develop back-up plans for personal assistance services, hospice or other forms of in-home assistance.

             Be a good neighbor. Check in on friends, family, and neighbors, particularly those most susceptible to extreme temperatures and power outages such as seniors and those with access and functional needs.

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management.  By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector - - individuals, families, non-profits, and businesses - - MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, coordinating response operations, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover.

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For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Also, follow MEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA; Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; and YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA. Massachusetts Alerts: to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for additional information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Senate GOP Leadership Appointments

On Thursday, I distributed the following press release regarding the leadership appointments within the Senate Republican Caucus:

Senator Tarr Announces 2015-2016 GOP Leadership Posts

            BOSTON – With the 189th Legislative Session underway, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) announces the following Republican leadership posts for the 2015-2016 legislative session:

·       Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) has been appointed to serve as an Assistant Senate Minority Leader for the third consecutive legislative term. He has also been appointed to serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Rules;

·       Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) has also been appointed to serve as an Assistant Senate Minority Leader, which will mark the first time he’s been appointed to that leadership position. He has also been appointed to serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Ethics. Previously, Senator Ross held the position of Minority Whip and has served as the Ranking Member of the Minority Party of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means;

·       Senator Donald Humason (R-Westfield) has been appointed to serve as the Senate Minority Whip for the second consecutive legislative session;

·       Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), who joined the caucus this legislative session after serving two terms as a member of the House of Representatives, has been appointed to serve as the Assistant Minority Whip; and

·       Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), who also joined the caucus this legislative session after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives, has been appointed to serve as the Ranking Member of the Minority Party of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Senator deMacedo will bring his expertise to the committee, since he had previously served as the Ranking Member for the Minority Party when he served in the House of Representatives.

“We are fortunate to have a caucus comprised of hard-working, articulate, and resourceful members from geographically diverse parts of our state,” said Senator Tarr. “Through their various roles in positions of leadership, I’m confident they will make a real difference in meeting the challenges we face now and in the future.”

After being elected unanimously by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus, Senator Tarr will again lead the caucus for his third consecutive term.  Senator Tarr will also serve as the Ranking Member on Bills in Third Reading.

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Senate Republican Caucus Succeeds in Passing Transparency Rules

On Wednesday, I distributed the following press release:

Senate Republican Caucus Succeeds in Passing Transparency Rules
Senate to Begin Posting Committee Roll Call Votes Online

Boston- Today the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus secured a major Senate rule requiring the posting of Senate committee roll call votes to the General Court website within 48 hours of a vote being taken.  The measure passed unanimously by a vote of 38-0.

            “The importance of this rule cannot be overstated as it not only provides a new element of transparency within the Senate, but it also creates a more informed public of the decision making process on Beacon Hill,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Giving citizens the opportunity to access this important information will ensure a much higher level of accountability will take place.”

            Other rules secured by the Senate Republican Caucus include:

  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Rules to report within 10 days on any rule change proposed by 1/5 of the members, and for the Senate to consider that report in a timely manner;

  • Requiring an annual fiscal audit by a certified public accountant of Senate financial accounts, to be made available to the members of the Senate and the public upon request;

  • Requiring the clerk to link the text of all amendments to roll call votes on the General Court website; and

  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to provide copies of proposed bill texts to committee members upon request prior to any vote on such bills.

            Immediately following last session’s Senate rules debate, the Senate Republican Caucus vowed to continue working to ensure that state government moves further towards transparency. The new Senate rule strikes a similar chord as a rule secured by the caucus during the 2013-2014 legislative session that requires the posting of all roll call votes taken by the members of the Senate to the General Court website within 48 hours of a vote being taken.

Unfortunately, some of the rules offered by Tarr, Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Assistant Minority Leader Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield), Assistant Minority Whip Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) and Senator Vinny DeMacedo (R-Plymouth), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, did not generate the needed support from the members of the majority party.

Those proposed rules include:

  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Ways and Means’ budget proposal to contain detailed information regarding the source of revenues and how it’s being spent;

  • Requiring all Senate committees to provide at least four hours to review a committee poll;

  • Requiring a unanimous vote of all the members present to allow Senate business to proceed beyond the hour of midnight;

  • Requiring the broadcasting of all informal and formal sessions online. Additionally, requiring the reporting of the progress of negotiations for formal sessions to be broadcast on TV; and

  • Limiting the pairing of votes only in cases where a senator is absent from the chamber due to military service or physical incapacity.

“It is important that at every opportunity the Senate moves in a direction of transparency and accountability, and while the Senate Republican Caucus didn’t get everything we were seeking during this rules debate, we will continue to work with the body to ensure the public remains informed of the process,” said Senator Tarr.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Working to Preserve the Fishing Industry

On Friday, January 16th, I participated in a joint meeting with Gloucester’s City Council and the city’s Fisheries Commission to discuss the current state and the future of the fishing industry. The meeting, which was held in Kyrouz Auditorium at City Hall, included fishermen; shoreside business operators; and city, state, and federal officials. It was a diverse crowd of stakeholders that provided a tremendous amount of expertise and experience in assessing Gloucester’s fisheries.

The meeting was broken into two segments that focused on short term fixes to preserve the existing infrastructure, and long term fixes to ensure the inshore fleet and shoreside businesses thrive. Essentially, we all agreed at some level that the science in assessing the fish stock is flawed. NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard also stated that NOAA needs to work better with fish stakeholders in communicating information regarding the industry.

During the meeting I reported on our accomplishments over the past year and the progress of other measures. They include:

Accomplishments:

·          The passage of a Seafood Marketing Bill;

·          Ch. 91 flexibility for Cape Pond Ice; and

·          Budget/economic development bill money for waterfront properties and CDC’s.

Working on:

·          Comprehensive and collaborative science effort;

·          Access to capital to rebuild wharves, piers, and infrastructure;

·         Tax relief for fishing vessels/gear; and

·         Lobster processing flexibility.

It is my hope, that as a group, we continue to work together to fight for an industry that has meant so much to the identity of Gloucester and the State of Massachusetts.

To read a more in-depth summary of the meeting, please click here to view a Gloucester Daily times report.
 
 

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering an Extraordinary Man


Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269 Source: Library of Congress - See more at: http://www.mlkonline.net/images.html#sthash.ZSgr9auJ.dpuf

“He gave people an ethical and moral way to engage in activities designed to perfect social change without bloodshed and violence.” – excerpt from Dr. Benjamin Mays eulogy for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College on April 9, 1968.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy embodies the essence of freedom and equality for all, and on this day I hope we all take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments of this extraordinary man.  His message of peace through nonviolent protests to ignite a cultural change within American society is a message that still reverberates today.

Sermon after sermon, speech after speech, Dr. King delivered a message of peace, hope, and faith. Because of his actions, and his ability to deliver such messages, this country made major strides towards eliminating racial injustice. During a time of severe strife, Dr. King taught people tolerance and brotherhood.  During a time of segregation and hate, Dr. King taught love and friendship.

Dr. King will forever be remembered for his contributions, and will continue to inspire people for generations to come.  Posted below is his 1963 public speech “I Have a Dream”, which was delivered in front of a crowd of approximately 200,000 civil rights supporters during a rally in Washington D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Full text to the "I Have a Dream" speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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