Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement Monday commemorating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, noting Coretta Scott King’s relationship to the Reyes family:

“We recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. today as an historic advocate for civil rights. In the United States, we believe all men are created equal and our rights and freedoms come from God, not government or rulers. Reverend King fought so those freedoms could be enjoyed equally by every man, woman and child in America.

“My father – Buddy Reyes – immigrated to the United States from the Philippines to flee political persecution in 1967. What transpired in the years to follow was truly an example of the American Dream. Living in humble circumstances while painting on the streets of Los Angeles to survive, my father was encouraged to enter a nationwide art contest in 1968 sponsored by Coretta Scott King in commemoration of her late husband. 

“Using art supplies donated by a blind neighbor and an old cabinet door to paint upon, my father won that nationwide art contest. Coretta Scott King and her lawyers assisted my father in expediting his legal status from resident to that of a full U.S. Citizen and the winnings from the contest helped establish the Reyes family’s true start in the United States. My father went on to many more successes over the next fifty years thanks to Mrs. King.

“Martin Luther King Jr., forever changed a nation – and his legacy forever changed my family’s history. For that, my family can never be grateful enough.”