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1-17-05 - WHITE HOUSE (AP) President Bush is joining in observances today marking the birthday of a man he calls a "visionary American." Bush says Martin Luther King "believed deeply in liberty and dignity for every person."
The president is speaking this afternoon at a celebration of King's life. The event at Washington's Kennedy Center is sponsored by Georgetown University.
In his proclamation of the King Holiday, Bush says the slain civil rights leader's "charismatic leadership awakened the conscience of America."
Bush says in the decades since King's death, the nation has accomplished much in its "journey toward justice." But he adds that journey "has not been an easy one and it is not over."
Meanwhile, civil rights advocates preparing to celebrate King's birthday today say economic equality will be an overriding issue in the continuing struggle.
Despite the strides made by King and others, fewer blacks than whites own their houses, get fair loans, invest in the stock market, sit on corporate boards, or have any real control over the flow of investment dollars.
One expert says the widening wealth gap is reversing gains made in other areas over the years.
Several local events are held Monday to commemorate the holiday. A lunch will be held on the Grayson County Courthouse lawn Monday and the City of Ardmore is throwing a parade which begins at 10:00 a.m.