Home / Full timeline / President-elect George Bush praises the life and work of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and promises to make King’s “dream of racial equality” his mission in the White House.
President-elect George Bush praises the life and work of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and promises to make King’s “dream of racial equality” his mission in the White House.
1989 (Jan 16)
President-elect George Bush praised the life and work of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and promised to make King's "dream of racial equality" his mission in the White House. In a speech to the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Afro-American Committee in Washington, D.C., Bush said that King had "lived a hero's life. He dreamed a hero's dreams. And he left a hero's indelible mark on the mind and imagination of a great nation. ... So today we remember the man; we pay tribute to his achievements, and we pledge once more our nation's sacred honor in continuing pursuit of his dream." In his remarks, Bush characterized King as a "great gift from God to the nation," adding, "What becomes of Martin Luther King's dreams is up to us. We must not fail him. We must not fail ourselves. And we must not fail the nation he loved so much and gave his life for. I understand that five days before becoming president of the United States of America." Bush concluded his comments by vowing to pursue equality, freedom, justice, and peace so “that bigotry and indifference to the disadvantaged will find no safe home on our shores, in our public life, in our neighborhoods or in our home, and that Reverend King's dream for his children and for ours will be fulfilled... This must be our mission together. It will, I promise, be my mission as president of the United States." The administration of Bush's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, in which the president-elect served as vice president, had faced constant criticism from Black leaders for alleged insensitivity to civil rights issues. A few days before Bush's speech, one such leader, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, had offered that Reagan “may be the worst civil rights president we've had in recent memory."