Thursday, January 15, 1998

Strengthening Opportunity and Communities for All

Until every child has the opportunity to live up to her God-given potential, free from want, in a world at peace, Dr. King's work -- our work is not yet done.

President Bill Clinton
January 15, 1998

Today, on Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday, President Clinton attends a series of events that build on Dr. King's dream of a stronger, more unified America that offers opportunity to all responsible Americans.

A Call for Active Citizenship. In his first event, President Clinton awards the nation's highest honor, the Presidential medal of Freedom, to 15 Americans who have dedicated their lives to expanding democracy -- by fighting for human rights, by empowering others to achieve, and by extending peace around the world. Like Dr. King, these Americans have risen to America's highest calling -- the calling of active citizenship. They are models of the service President Clinton calls all Americans to demonstrate as we build an even stronger America for the 21st century.

Expanded Economic Opportunity. In his second event, President Clinton visits Wall Street to challenge Americans to recognize that "the best jobs program, the best policy for urban renewal, the best affirmative action program is a growing economy." Already, under President Clinton, America has achieved the strongest economy in a generation: unemployment is at its lowest levels in 24 years; welfare rolls have dropped by a record 3.8 million people; and the deficit has been cut by more than 90 percent. To better expand economic opportunity to all Americans, President Clinton is challenging the private sector to:

Stronger, Safer Communities. In his final event of the day, President Clinton highlights the important role strong, safe communities play in expanding opportunity to all responsible Americans. Since coming to office, the President's work has helped achieve the lowest crime rate in 25 years, including a 22% drop in the murder rate and a 16% drop in the rate of violent crime. Today, the President announces that the total number of community police officers funded across the nation as part of the President's Crime Bill is now more than 70,000 -- moving the nation closer to achieving the President's goal of putting 100,000 new cops on America's streets.

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