News

50th anniversary of King’s ‘Dream’ speech celebrated

50th anniversary of King’s ‘Dream’ speech celebrated

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, D.C. in this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo. Photo: Associated Press/File

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An address by President Barack Obama and nationwide bell-ringing will cap celebrations on Wednesday marking the 50th anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s landmark “I have a dream” speech.

Obama will speak during the “Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action” commemoration on the steps of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial, the site of King’s address on August 28, 1963, the White House said.

Other speakers include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The ceremony will follow an interfaith service at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, organizers said.

The speech by Obama, the first black U.S. president, will come as almost half of Americans say much more needs to be done before the color-blind society that King envisioned is realized.

Obama said last week that the legacy of discrimination had left a persistent economic gap between blacks and whites, but that the civil rights movement’s impulse for equality had spread to Hispanics, immigrants, gays and others.

“What’s wonderful to watch is that … each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate,” he told a Binghamton University audience in Vestal, New York. “That’s a great victory that we should all be very proud of.”

The Lincoln Memorial ceremony will include bell-ringing at 3 p.m. EDT, 50 years to the minute after King ended his call for racial and economic justice with the words “let freedom ring.”

About 50 communities or organizations around the United States have said they will ring bells. The Swiss city of Lutry and Tokyo are also taking part, said Atlanta’s King Center, one of the event’s organizers.

Other organizers include the National Action Network of civil rights leader and talk show host Al Sharpton, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Council of Churches.

A “Jobs and Justice” march before the event is expected to snarl traffic around the Mall, an open area stretching two miles from the Capitol west to the Lincoln Memorial.

Obama’s address will wrap up more than a week of Washington events marking the 50th anniversary of King’s address. They included seminars, conferences and a march on Saturday that drew tens of thousands of people urging action on jobs, voting rights and gun violence.

“What we must do is we must give our young people dreams again,” Sharpton told marchers.

King, a black clergyman and advocate of non-violence, was among six organizers of the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” where he made his address.

King’s address is credited with helping spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act the following year. A white prison escapee assassinated the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1968.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

Latest Stories

12 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Boy Found Safe; Amber Alert Canceled

Williams

A 3-year-old boy who was the subject of an amber alert has been returned to a relative.

12 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Oregon Trail,’ ‘Sonic’ join World Video Game Hall of Fame

videogamehall2016AP

Last year, "Super Mario Bros." and "Pong" were among the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 is just as strong.

12 hours ago in Local, Surrounding Counties

Woman Sex Offender Fails To Register

Department of Justice Logo (RG)

An Augusta County woman has admitted she failed to register as a sex offender.

14 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Local Officials Celebrate Full Reservoir

Updated
GaffneyMike052206

Area residents are celebrating a full Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

14 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

New Beer Created To Celebrate DMB

Updated
Dave Matthews Band Logo

A local brewery creates a Pilsner to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dave Matthews Band.