Former President George W. Bush didn't attend, a spokesman said, because he was recovering from a recent heart procedure. Bush said in a statement that Obama's presidency reflects "the promise of America" and "will help us honor the man who inspired millions to redeem that promise."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., were invited to speak but declined, aides said. Boehner had participated along with other congressional leaders at a July 31 event marking the anniversary of the march before Congress began a five-week summer recess. Cantor joined Lewis, the Georgia congressman, earlier this year in Selma, Ala., to honor King's legacy.
Organizers of the rally broadened the focus well beyond racial issues, with speakers addressing the environment, gay rights, the challenges facing the disabled and more. The performers, too, were an eclectic crowd, ranging from Maori haka dancers to LeAnn Rimes singing "Amazing Grace."
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Eric Tucker and Brett Zongker contributed to this report.
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