WASHINGTON – President Obama tried to reassemble a “coalition of conscience” to take up his economic agenda for the middle class on Wednesday as he honored Martin Luther King Jr. and the marchers who fought for civil rights 50 years ago.
“In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it,” Obama said.
The president spoke at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 1963 protest that became the most iconic moment of the civil rights movement. Obama, the first African American president, spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King described his dream of racial equality as many black Americans still struggled to vote.
Obama’s remarks capped several days of events in Washington observing the anniversary. Thousands marched Saturday on the National Mall to call attention to current civil rights causes: gay and lesbian rights, voting rights and gun laws. The commemoration Wednesday was a more solemn and polished affair. Speakers included former Presidents Clinton and Carter, Oprah Winfrey and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the only living speaker from the 1963 march.
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