Across the United States, Americans paused Monday to honor the life and legacy of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. President Bush was the main speaker at an event in Washington.
This is the 20th annual Martin Luther King holiday in the United States and it is the first since the passing of Rosa Parks, often called the mother of the civil rights movement.
Their two stories became intertwined at a ceremony marking Martin Luther King Day at Washington's Kennedy Center. President Bush urged Americans to remember their struggle and to recommit themselves to the dream that Martin Luther King gave his life for almost 38 years ago.
" … an America where the dignity of every person is respected, where people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, and where the hope of a better tomorrow is in every neighborhood in this country.
The president spoke of the courage of the founders of the civil rights movement. He said Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were inspired by their religious faith and their deep belief in a better future.
"So when they made their appeal for equal rights, they aimed for America's soul, and they roused the dozing conscience of a complacent nation," added Mr. Bush.
President Bush said much has changed in the United States since the 1950s, when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama, bus, and a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. organized a boycott of the bus system. All the same, Mr. Bush acknowledged much more remains to be done.
"At the dawn of this new century, America can be proud of the progress we have made toward equality, but we all must recognize we have more to do," explained Mr. Bush.
Reverend King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Rosa Parks remained active in the civil rights movement after his death, and passed away October 24 at the age of 92.