Calling Martin Luther King, Jr. “one of America’s most important lives,” President Bush paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader during a university event memorializing King at the Kennedy Center Monday.

Bush spoke as part of Georgetown’s “Let Freedom Ring” concert, held annually to honor King and other Americans committed to his legacy of social justice.

“We recommit ourselves to working for the dream that artin Luther King gave his life for – an America where the dignity of every person is respected,” Bush said.

Bush also praised the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks for her commitment to freedom and equality. Parks posthumously received the second John Thompson, Jr. “Legacy of a Dream” award. University President John J. DeGioia presented Parks’ award to Elaine Eason Steele, the co-founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute.

“[Parks and King] helped African-Americans gain their God-given rights,” Bush said.

He also stressed the need for Congress to renew the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which permitted the federal government to watch over state voting procedures more closely and is set to expire next year.

The concert, which featured a performance by gospel singer Yolanda Adams, was the fourth annual event held in celebration of Georgetown and the Kennedy Center’s “Let Freedom Ring” initiative on Martin Luther King Day. Bush also spoke at last year’s event, when the first “Legacy of a Dream” Award was presented to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma.

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