January 15, 1988

The President. Hello. Mr. Dalton?

Mr. Dalton. Good morning, Mr. President.

The President. Well, it's good to speak to you, and I'm looking forward to saying a few words to your student body there.

Mr. Dalton. We'd like to have you say as much as you would like.

The President. Well, thank you, and welcome to all of you. You know, today is the birthday of a great American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after whom your school was named. So, I thought that if there was any occasion which would justify my interrupting the fine work that you, the students and the faculty, are doing at King Elementary, to have a brief chat, this would be it.

Dr. King was a man who dedicated his life to the pursuit of the dream that one day all Americans would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. He was committed to seeing that our nation lived up to its promise of liberty and justice for all. Now, much remains to be done, but ours is a better country today, and each of you has more opportunities because of the hard work and courage of this remarkable man.

We should also be reminded that Dr. King understood the value of education as a means of helping to accomplish his vision for America. Dr. King once said: ``I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have an education.'' Well, he was right. And today minority schools located in the poorest of big city neighborhoods are meeting high academic standards in reading, mathematics, and other vital subjects.

As you young people, the students at King Elementary -- you can help fulfill Dr. King's dream by making certain that you try your hardest to take advantage of the great opportunities available to you. Most certainly, that includes being diligent in your studies, and it also means saying no to drugs and those of you who are in any way involved in drugs.

And, Mr. Dalton, I want you to know that this partnership that we have had -- the White House and your school -- has been very rewarding to all of us, and we're very proud of this relationship that we have with you and your fine students there at the school. And I appreciate very much this chance to speak to you again and wish you all the very best.

Mr. Dalton. We thank you, Mr. President, and we would also like to extend to you and your wife the happiest in 1988 and hope that everything would turn out all right today in your checkup.

Thank you.

The President. Well, thank you very much. And thank you all, and God bless you all.

Mr. Dalton. Goodbye, sir.

The President. Goodbye.

Note: The President spoke at 10:02 a.m. from the Oval Office at the White House to the students and faculty assembled in the school's auditorium. William Dalton was the principal of the school.