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"Because they kept marching, America changed," Obama said. "Because they marched, America became more free and more fair. America changed for you and for me. And the entire world drew strength from that example."
In addition to the three former presidents, marchers heard from union leaders, actors including Oprah Winfrey, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march.
Elected officials all Democrats and civil rights leaders also used the occasion to tie King's message to a wider range of modern domestic policy issues, including immigration, gay marriage and the minimum wage.
Thousands stood in the rain to hear Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and members of the King family as they reflected Nike Air Huarache Triple Black Junior
O'Malley, who has said he is considering a run for president in 2016, said Wednesday's march should prompt a call to action rather than a sense of nostalgia.
O'Malley touched on gun control, education, gay marriage, the minimum wage, the death penalty and other issues in remarks that lasted about two minutes.
ï»¿'unfinished business' on race
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The absence of even a gesture of bipartisanship was a reminder of the lasting political legacy of the civil rights battles. Since Democrats led the passage of civil rights legislation marchers pushed for in 1963, Republicans have struggled to recover black voters, leaving a stark racial divide in American politics.
Several speakers noted that King's speech and leadership were being remembered at a time when racial tensions have been stoked by last year's fatal shooting of a black teenager in Florida, Trayvon Martin, and a Supreme Court decision in June that struck down a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
On Wednesday, people lined up along most of the length of the reflecting pool and included young and old, black and white, and people who participated in the 1963 march.
on the 1963 March on Washington and the speech that helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
In an address that drew on themes of unity reminiscent of his 2008 campaign, the nation's first black president said continuing King's Air Huarache Shark
Speakers stood in front of a massive iron bell, salvaged from the ruins of the bombed out 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where the deaths of four black girls in 1963 would prove another turning point in the civil rights movement. Wednesday, the time King delivered the "I have a dream" speech, members of his family rang the bell in a solemn moment to honor the assassinated leader.
The Republican politicians invited to the event passed on the high profile platform to promote their vision of the new civil rights landscape. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio chose to speak at a congressional ceremony last month instead. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia had previously scheduled events in North Dakota and Ohio, an aide said.
legacy would require policymakers to resist state ballot access laws, increase opportunities for education and confront a gap in wealth between the races that has grown more pronounced in recent decades.
Former President Bill Clinton said Americans should oppose efforts to repeal Obama's health care law and should support federal gun control measures. "A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon," he said.
The crowd for the event was smaller than the 1963 gathering, and also smaller than a march on Washington Saturday organized by a coalition of civil rights groups.
comfort in our country for the bigotry of cold indifference," O'Malley said. "For there are still too many lives in America taken from us by violence too much apathy when the lives of people of color are too often valued less than the lives of white people."
The nation has made progress toward the dream of racial equality envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama told tens of thousands on the National Mall on Wednesday, but creating economic opportunity for millions of Americans remains "our great unfinished business."
"The arc of the moral universe may Huarache Trainers For Girls bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own," Obama said from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his "I have a dream" speech 50 years earlier. "To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency."
Unemployment among blacks, meanwhile, remains nearly double that of whites a gap that has not changed significantly since the 1960s. African American unemployment stood at 12.6 percent last month, compared with 6.6 percent for whites.
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