Obama says more work needed to achieve ideals from King's 'Dream' speech

Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:55pm EDT
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By Ian Simpson and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is struggling to realize the vision that civil rights leader Martin Luther King described in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday, citing economic security as a still elusive goal.

Obama, the first black U.S. president, 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.

Joined by members of the King family and two former presidents, Obama and his fellow speakers urged Americans to continue the slain leader's quest for justice.

Obama said King's speech inspired millions of Americans to fight for a more equal 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, calling economic justice the "unfinished business" of the civil rights battle.

Marchers, many wearing T-shirts with King's face on them, began their walk near the U.S. Capitol.

They were led by a line of military veterans and people who had been at the 1963 march, their arms linked. People sang "We Shall Overcome" and other civil rights anthems.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech in Washington August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque