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)

Recent Headlines

10 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘How To Be Single’ feels the same while trying too hard to be different

22-overlay-9

"How to Be Single" makes a valiant attempt to send up rom-com clichés but it borrows so much from other, better movies that you start to wonder if the film’s title should be "How to Commit Larceny."

12 hours ago in Music

Springsteen promises to show his mind in autobiography

springsteen

Springsteen, 66, has been working on the autobiography, called "Born to Run," for seven years.

13 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Star Wars’ producers face charges in Harrison Ford’s on-set accident

18-overlay-7

The "Indiana Jones" star broke his leg when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him during filming in 2014.

15 hours ago in Music

Ace Frehley to release covers album, records with Paul Stanley

acefrehley

Frehley will release a covers album, entitled "Origins Vol. 1" in April, and on it he teams up with his former bandmate for "Fire and Water," a track originally recorded in 1970 by the English rock group Free.

17 hours ago in Entertainment

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ headed for Broadway debut

mockingbird

Harper Lee's classic novel is coming to Broadway for the first time in a new stage version written by "West Wing" writer Aaron Sorkin.