State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, leads Indiana House remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, speaks about slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., on Thursday in the Indiana House.

Dan Carden, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, likened Martin Luther King Jr. to the Biblical figures of Job and Jesus Christ in his annual address to the Indiana House honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Smith said King, too, went through a "season of suffering" before reaching a "season of elevation," which Americans will celebrate Monday on the national holiday held in King's memory.

"He came from humble beginnings, and, like Job, he had to go through difficult times," Smith said.

"He had to go through bigotry, through racism, through injustice, just because he wanted peace and equality in America."

But through it all, Smith explained, King never lost his faith in his country and in the future of mankind, and he refused to accept despair despite obstacles continually put in his path.

"He believed that unvarnished truth and unconditional love will have the final verdict," Smith said. "Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil that triumphs."

While King ultimately died for his cause by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968, Smith said the country that King dreamed of is at hand.

"The stone that was rejected has become the chief cornerstone of this nation," he said.

Following Smith's 25-minute speech, the 100 representatives unanimously approved House Resolution 3, urging all Hoosiers to "honor Dr. King by living out his teachings, as we continue to work toward a day when the dignity and humanity of every person are respected."

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.