Obama on Class, Race, and LGBTs in King Celebration
BY Michelle Garcia
August 28 2013 5:53 PM ET
As the nation's capital was flooded today with celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 March on Washington, President Barack Obama acknowledged several groups in his remarks, including LGBT Americans.
Obama said King's speech has resonated over the decades and still provides a battle cry for those fighting for change, as it did for those who fought 50 years ago.
"Because they marched, America became more free and more fair — not just for African-Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability," Obama said. "America changed for you and for me, and the entire world drew strength from that example, whether the young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid."
Obama said King's speech was also a symbol of unity that has been forged in the last half-century, which he called a "coalition of conscience."
"And I believe that spirit is there, that truth force inside each of us," he said. "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. It’s there when the native-born recognize that striving spirit of the new immigrant; when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own."
The president urged people to remember that the work for civil rights and economic justice is still not over. He said "we would dishonor those heroes … to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete."
Other speakers included former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as notable figures such as Oprah Winfrey. According to MSNBC, during LeAnn Rimes's rendition of "Amazing Grace," a rainbow appeared in the sky before the thousands of onlookers. At 3 p.m., the minute that King finished his speech 50 years earlier, a bell rang to commemorate the moment.
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