WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech by saying the nation owes a huge debt to those who "kept marching" in the noble cause of equal rights.
The nation's first African-American president talked about today's challenges -- the growing inequities between the wealthiest and poorest Americans -- and the need for Americans, including blacks, to take more personal responsibility.
"Because they kept marching, America changed," Obama said in a tribute not only to the late Rev.
King, but the ordinary Americans of all races who marched with him.
"Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed. Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually, the White House changed."
Speaking from the same spot at the Lincoln Memorial that the Rev. King spoke 50 years ago, the president said there are still people trying to limit opportunities for Americans by suggesting that those struggling economically are somehow to blame for their plight.
"Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half century ago," Obama said. "But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white unemployment, Latino unemployment close behind.