Obama hails King, says 'dream' requires vigilance
By Stephen Collinson, AFPWASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama challenged Americans Wednesday to enshrine Martin Luther King Jr.'s victory over racial oppression with a new “dream” of economic equality which he has placed at the center of his own political legacy.
August 30, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Fifty years after the “I have a dream speech,” America's first black president stood poignantly on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where King made an appearance in 1963 which changed history.
“He offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike,” Obama said in a ringing address, which he admitted beforehand would not match King's oratory.
“His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time,” Obama told a crowd of thousands.
Obama also remembered the thousands of African Americans who joined King's March on Washington to demand their rights and to wake their country's “long slumbering conscience.”
The president, who has faced some criticism for not doing more to help the African American community, which remains plagued by poverty and barriers to advancement, dismissed arguments that little had changed for blacks since King spoke.
“To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years,” he said.
But as he stood below the monument honoring Abraham Lincoln, the president who ended slavery, Obama also argued that much work remained to be done for King's dream to be fulfilled.
“We would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete,” Obama said.