|Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-08-29 04:12Z by Steven|
The New York Times
Peter Baker and Sheryl Gay Stolberg
WASHINGTON — President Obama stepped into the space on Wednesday where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, summoning his iconic dream of a colorblind society in a celebration of a half-century of progress and a call to arms for the next generation.
On a day of overcast skies and misty rain, tens of thousands of Americans — black, white and every shade in between — returned to the site of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to listen to the nation’s first black president pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way for his own ascension to the heights of American government.
“Because they kept marching, America changed,” the president said as Dr. King’s family watched. “Because they marched, a civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, a voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes.
“Because they marched,” he added, “city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.”
The symbolic journey from Dr. King to Mr. Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial animated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom more than any oratory. While Mr. Obama’s line about the White House changing was his only reference to his unique place in history, the power of his presence was lost on no one.
But it also underscored the challenge to a movement to reframe its mission for a new era. With an African-American in the Oval Office, it is harder to argue about political empowerment than it was in 1963, and much of the day’s message centered on tackling persistent economic disparity, as well as newer frontiers of civil rights like equality for gay men and lesbians…