BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday that the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in is a time to reflect on both the progress that has been made in bridging the country's racial divide, and also the challenges that still lie ahead.
Patrick, the state's first black governor, commemorated the anniversary by taking part in a bell-ringing ceremony at the Old South Meeting House. He also planned to participate in a concert on Boston's Charles River Esplanade celebrating the famous speech.
Patrick, who was only 7 when King delivered the speech on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., said the words delivered by the civil rights leader that day still speak to the American conscience.
"We have made extraordinary progress in the 50 years since that speech," Patrick told reporters. "And there are many, many examples and some of you and others will point to me and President Obama as a couple of those examples and that is absolutely undeniable."
But the governor cited the Trayvon Martin case in Florida and what he called "voter suppression" laws passed in some states as proof the country is still struggling with issues surrounding race.
"We have work to do, and we have work to do around issues that are expressly racial and issues that have their roots in historic discrimination," Patrick said.
Patrick does not remember whether he watched the "I Have a Dream" speech at the time, but does recall as a child seeing King speak in Chicago's south side, where the governor grew up.
"I don't remember a single word he said, but I remember what it felt like, I remember a feeling of being connected to all those people in that park, people like me of limited means but limitless hope," he said.