Keynote Speaker Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards speaks to guests during the 33rd Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at AACC on January 20.
Keynote Speaker Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards speaks to guests during the 33rd Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at AACC on January 20. (By Atalie Day Brown / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A full transcript of Rep. Donna Edwards' remarks following her April 26 primary election loss to Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the Democratic nomination for Senate. With credit to WJZ-TV.

EDWARDS:

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Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you all, to IBEW, the electrical workers. It is great to be in a house of labor, Local 26, this evening. Thank you very much. It is fitting for working people to be in a house of labor. I want to say first of all to my family, to my son Jared, who all of you read about and heard about -- he's been talked about -- thank you, sweet heart, I love you. My mom, my sisters, my brother, thank you so much. I love you. You ground me. You ground me. You've always been there for me, no matter what. And to my campaign staff, and all of our amazing volunteers, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you. You truly gave your heart and your soul to this campaign. There is no one in this race -- no one -- who out-hustled our team of door knockers, and phone callers and poll workers. You have my deepest thanks and you deserve your own round of applause.

Just a short bit ago I called my opponent, Mr. Chris Van Hollen -- Congressman Van Hollen -- to congratulate him on his win tonight, after a very hard fought campaign. But I have some news for you, my friends. Our battle is not over and our work is not done. To our friends in labor, our progressive allies, to my friends at Emily's List -- you are not dark money; Emily's List, you are not the Koch brothers -- thank you so much for being with me.

You know, this campaign has never been just about me or about my opponent. It's about building a progressive movement all across our state, and across our country that lifts the sights of our citizens just a little bit higher. It is about saying that if we set our hearts and our minds and our shoulders to it that we can actually do big things in this country. And that we need to do big things to give everyday citizens, ordinary people, working people an opportunity and a fighting chance in our economy, and in Washington.

And my friends it is also about leading fearlessly. And it's about repairing a broken political system, saying what we believe to be true and fighting for what we know is right. And regardless of whether Washington insiders and the political establishment might prefer, we continue to fight for what is right. I want to thank my colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus for being here this evening.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. Congresswoman Robin Kelly. Congresswoman, congresswoman. Did I miss one? Yvette Clarke, and Robin Kelly and Gwen Moore. Thank you for being here. You were my sisters and I thank you.

And, friends, here's the thing. We can do better as a country. We can do better as a state. But we can only do that if we commit to doing better in delivering on that commitment, not just for Maryland families but across the country. When I traveled over this last year across our great state and met Marylanders from the Eastern Shore to the Western mountains, and the Metropolitan Washington area and the greater Baltimore region, and they all say the same things. They say they want to get up in the morning and go to a decent job that pays a decent living. They want to meet their responsibilities. They want to make sure that their children have the ability to do better than they did. It is the American dream.

Occasionally we working people want to take one lousy day off, and maybe if a child or a loved one gets sick we want to be able to take off to take care of them without being afraid of a losing a job. And it's fitting that we're in the house of labor because we know that in this country organized labor negotiates those kind of benefits for their workers. And it works for them. These are the issues that we raise as Democrats, and as Marylanders. And we're going to continue to fight for solutions, we're going to fight for people who deserve no less than our fight. For the black child who wonders why his school has so much less than the school across town, or in another county. For the young woman who comes into the workforce and wonders why, in 2016, she's making 22 cents less than the men along whose side she works.

And for all those workers who work hard every day and they pay into Social Security, and they expect retirement security at the end of their working years, and we need to deliver that for them. And we need a stronger democracy, we need a stronger democracy that is not about money, it is not about interests, but is about the American people.

And so tonight, you come here together after a really long and hard-fought campaign. But tomorrow, we're going to get up and we're going to go to our jobs, and we're going to continue to fight for the American people.

And I have another message for my beloved Democratic Party. You cannot celebrate inclusion and diversity. To my Democratic Party, you cannot show up in churches before Election Day, you cannot sing the first and last verse of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' you cannot join hands and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and call that post-racial and inclusion. And to my Democratic Party, let me say that today Maryland is on the verge of having an all-male delegation, in a so-called progressive state. So what I want to know from my Democratic Party, is when will the voices of people of color, when will the voices of women, when will the voices of labor, when will the voices of black women, when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders in a big tent party? My friends, this is the 21st Century question for the Democratic Party, and it is time for the Democratic Party to call the question.

So as I walk away from this podium and I look at a Maryland that is a majority-minority state -- we are -- then it is time for us to have our seat at the table. As women, as workers, as black and brown people, as communities of color, we are no longer content to have you make the decisions for us, to have you set the table for us. It is time for us to get off the menu and to get around the table. And so, my friends, for all of us who look a little different, for all of us who talk a little different, for all of us who are standing on the outside propping up the Democratic Party, it is time to call the question.

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