President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden welcome singer Stevie Wonder to the stage at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

As President Obama said, “This is a day that would not be denied.”

Since King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, reflecting on his legacy ultimately means summarizing how far we’ve come and figuring how much work there is yet to be done to accomplish equality. Whether it’s the President of the United States or a retired auto worker talking, these memorable quotes mirror that sentiment:

“King had faith in us. . . and that is why he belongs on this Mall: Because he saw what we might become.”President Obama (View full text from his speech here.)

(Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

“If it wasn’t for Dr. King, President Obama wouldn’t be here today. He opened up all these doors for us and everything, by getting beat up, riding the buses, marching, doing all those things like that.” — Emma Logan, 62, who traveled in a group from Atlanta to the ceremony.

“I think he would smile and say that we got a long ways to go. ” — Jerline Johnson, 72, of Milwaukee, when asked what she thought King would’ve thought of the festivities.

Read more Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial coverage here.