WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said some blacks have had "unimaginable" success, but the wealth gap between blacks and whites has grown since the Civil Rights era.
Speaking Wednesday at the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony in Washington -- commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the Rev. Martin Luther King's landmark "I have a dream" speech -- the president said the march led to passage of civil rights and voting rights laws.
Obama said Americans "would do well" to remember not only King's speech but also "those ordinary people, whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV."
"They lived in towns where they couldn't vote and cities where their votes didn't matter," he said. "They were couples in love who couldn't marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire-hosed. And they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate.
"And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors," Obama told a crowd that stood in intermittent rainfall in front of the Lincoln Memorial. "In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of non-violence."
The president said because people marched, "city councils changed, and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and yes, eventually the White House changed."
"Because they marched America became more free and fair."