Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

August 27, 1983

Twenty years ago today, a quarter of a million Americans peacefully and prayerfully assembled in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial for a noble cause. They asked only what all of us ask of our country: that it live up to its high ideals, those cherished ideals of freedom, human dignity, opportunity, and brotherhood that gave birth to the United States. It was a moving moment in American history, and those of us who witnessed it will never forget it.

Although the emphasis of the 1963 March on Washington was on the rights of black Americans, the values that were appealed to are shared by us all -- the goal of a more just, more abundant, more free society that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so eloquently spoke of on that day. In the last 20 years, great progress has been made. It is fitting that on this anniversary we should give thanks for that progress, and to those who sacrificed so much to bring it about. But much remains to be done.

America, mankind's last, best hope for freedom, is a special place, a place where so many dreams have come true. Today, let us resolve anew to do everything we can, in our time, to continue to fulfill Dr. King's dream -- a dream that all men and women of good will, black and white alike, share with all their hearts.