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President Bush Addresses NAACP after Five-Year Absence

President Bush says freedom and civil rights are still evolving in the United States, and calls on every American to see that the promise of equality is fulfilled.

The president was speaking to America's oldest civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Thursday in Washington, D.C., during its 97th annual national convention.

It was Mr. Bush's first appearance before the NAACP since taking office in 2001, having turned down previous invitations. His relations with the group have been strained over its criticism of his policies.

His appearance is part of increased efforts by the president's Republican Party to improve its image among African-Americans, who have voted solidly Democratic for decades. Mr. Bush today acknowledged that many African-Americans do not trust Republicans, but said he is working to try to change that.

The speech also comes just days after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to extend key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against black voters.

The Republican-controlled Senate could vote on the matter as early as today.