Bush Calls Dr. King a Hero, : Vows to Fulfill His Dreams : Nation’s ‘Honor’ Pledged

Associated Press

President-elect Bush, in a glowing tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., today pledged that as President he will work to fulfill King’s dreams of racial equality.

Bush called the late civil rights leader an American hero, saying: “He lived a hero’s life. He dreamed a hero’s dreams. He left a hero’s indelible mark on the mind and imagination of a great nation.”

In an address to a breakfast of the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Afro-American Committee, Bush added, “We pledge once more our nation’s sacred honor in pursuit of his dreams.”


Noting that he will be sworn in as President on Friday, Bush signaled to black Americans that he will be sensitive to their concerns.

‘Must Not Fail Him’

“What becomes of Martin Luther King’s dreams is up to us,” he said. “We must not fail him. We must not fail ourselves. We must not fail the nation he loved so much and gave his life for.

“I understand that, five days before coming President of the United States of America.” Bush was applauded by the gathering of 300 black leaders.

Bush also cautioned that Americans must remember not only the goals of King but “why these were dreams and not reality.”

“Remember the moral stain of segregation, the lies it taught and the anguish it inflicted on the lives of black Americans and on the conscience of the entire American people,” Bush said.

He said that he will work to ensure “that bigotry and indifference to the disadvantaged will find no safe home on our shores,” and that King’s dreams for the children of America will be fulfilled. “This must be our mission together. It will, I promise, be my mission as President of the United States.”

Administration Faulted

Bush as vice president was part of an Administration often criticized for its civil rights record and what black leaders have said is indifference to their cause.

Bush, however, has made a concerted effort to show minorities that his will be a much more activist presidency in terms of minority needs.

President Reagan, who has questioned the motives of some civil rights leaders during his eight years in office, had proclaimed the King holiday on Dec. 23 in a statement that said the civil rights leader’s “work is not done, but neither is his witness stilled.”

Reagan, who initially opposed the holiday, signed the legislation for the legal holiday in 1985 and has made videotaped tributes to King in recent years. He had no public appearances on his schedule today.

Bush returned home Sunday after a three-day fishing trip to the Florida Keys.

He caught seven varieties of fish Saturday, but failed to repeat his feat Friday of pulling in a 13-pound bonefish, just three pounds off the world record for the hard-fighting species.

One of his fishing partners, Fred Zeder, a former ambassador to Micronesia, snagged a sea gull while casting and had to reel the bird in like a kite to unhook it and let it fly away.

Bush made good on his promise to reporters Friday that he would make no news during his latest visit to the Keys, his fifth as vice president. It was also his third vacation since the Nov. 8 election.