Factbox: Speeches reframe American 'Dream' 50 years after King
(Reuters) - Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, and other leaders spoke to thousands of marchers on Washington's National Mall to commemorate civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s landmark "I have a dream" speech, delivered 50 years ago on Wednesday.
Here is how speakers honored King's speech, which came to symbolize the struggle for equality among blacks and whites in America:
Obama: "We'll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow-feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago. I believe that spirit is there. That true force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. ... When the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own."
Benjamin Jealous, president, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: "Some 50 years after the March on Washington, while fewer people as a percentage in our country are poor, more as a number in our country are poor. And while the ladder of opportunity extends to the heavens for our people today, more are tethered at the bottom and falling off every day."
Former President Bill Clinton: "Martin Luther King urged his crowd not to drink from the cup of bitterness, but to reach across the racial divide, because, he said, we cannot walk alone. ... He urged the victims of racial violence to meet white Americans with an outstretched hand, not a clenched fist, and in so doing to prove the redeeming power of unearned suffering. ... This march and that speech changed America. They opened minds, they melted hearts, and they moved millions, including a 17-year-old boy watching alone in his home in Arkansas."
Jamie Foxx, actor: "Everybody my age and all the young entertainers, it's time for us to stand up now and renew this dream. That's what we've got to do. I was affected by the Trayvon Martin situation, I was affected by Newtown. ... What we need to do now is, the young pick it up so that when we are 87 years old talking to the other young folks, we can say, 'It was me, Will Smith, Jay-Z, Kanye, Alicia Keyes, Kerry Washington.' The list goes on and on."
Former President Jimmy Carter: "I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new ID requirements to exclude certain voters especially African-Americans ... to unemployment among African-Americans being almost twice the rate of white people, and for teenagers at 42 percent ... to our country being awash in guns and for more and more states passing stand-your-ground laws ... to more than 835,000 African-American men in prison, five times as many as when I left office, and with one-third of all African-American males being destined to be in prison in their lifetimes. ... There's a tremendous agenda ahead of us."
Oprah Winfrey, entertainment mogul: "When the bells of freedom ring today, we're hoping that it's a time for all of us to reflect on not only the progress that's been made, and we've made a lot, but on what we have accomplished and also on the work that still remains before us."
Caroline Kennedy, Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Japan and daughter of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a King contemporary: "A few months ago, after the Trayvon Martin verdict was handed down, and the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, President Obama did the same, reminding us all that despite our remarkable progress, each generation must rededicate itself to the unfinished work of building a free and just America."
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone)
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