The U.S. is struggling to fully realize the vision that Martin Luther King described in his famous “I have a dream” speech 50 years ago, as the goal of economic security for all remains elusive, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
Obama spoke to thousands of marchers on Washington’s National Mall to commemorate King’s landmark address, which came to symbolize the struggle for equality among blacks and whites in America.
Obama said King’s speech inspired millions of Americans to fight for a more just society and rights that people now take for granted.
“To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed, that dishonors the courage, the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years,” Obama said.
“But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete,” he said.
The president called economic justice the “unfinished business” of the civil rights battle.
Marchers were led by a line of military veterans and people who had been at the 1963 march.
Fighting restrictive voting rights laws that Democrats say hurt minorities, combating joblessness and reducing gun violence among African Americans are among the issues that civil rights leaders put at the forefront of their efforts in 2013.
The marchers heard speeches from former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and members of King’s family, among other dignitaries.