April 6th, 2011
07:10 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNN)- Sharing the room with famous athletes, record moguls, musicians and union leaders, President Obama made a stop in New York City Wednesday evening at a gala event honoring some well known Americans for their efforts in advancing civil rights.
“We’ve still got work to do,” Obama said despite listing a litany of accomplishments such as passage of health care, and financial reform legislation as he delivered remarks at the annual convention of the National Action Network – the civil rights organization headed by Rev. Al Sharpton.
In his remarks, Obama said “we are going to have to up our game as a nation,” if the country is going to attract new investment and jobs through the modernization of communication and transportation infrastructure, and the development of a clean energy economy. “It is the civil rights issue of our time,” he said.
In an acknowledgement that steep challenges still remain for many Americans, Obama asked the audience to not give up hope on the future. “I am living testament that change is possible,” he said.
Later in the evening, the organization awarded its annual “Keepers of the Dream” award to some notable individuals. Sporting legends Muhammad Ali, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Jim Brown, along with MSNBC President Phil Griffin, Lee Saunders of the AFL-CIO, and Sylvia Rhone, President of Universal Motown Records are some of the honorees this year.
The awards, given each year around the anniversary of the April 4th, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, are given to individuals who have “committed themselves to fairness and racial harmony through their actions,” according to a press release from the National Action Network.
The awards are the centerpiece of the group’s annual convention that features workshops, seminars, and addresses from government officials, and civil rights leaders. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the organization.
There were an estimated twelve hundred people in attendance according to an official with the group.