With the continuing challenges of Black America in mind, despite our first African-American president, it’s a good time to come together. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In commemoration of that historic day 50 years ago, there will be a five-day commemoration of the original March at the original site – the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The first day, August 24, is the “50th Anniversary March on Washington National Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally” to promote jobs, justice and freedom as the original march did. On Wednesday, August 28, the actual anniversary of the March, there will be a worldwide “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony across the U.S and the world at 3 p.m. Eastern time. That ceremony, which includes tributes and a national call to action, will take place from 1-5:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial. President Obama will be in attendance and will give an address. Both events are open to the public.
“We will be there at the Lincoln Memorial in commemoration of that day and that moment and calling us as a world, not just as citizens of America, but as a world, to really commit ourselves to continuing his legacy and his work that is so desperately needed,” Bernice King, CEO of the King Center, and King’s youngest daughter, told the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the Lincoln Memorial event.
“No matter where you come from, people all across the world are either crying out for the freedom to participate in government or the freedom to prosper in life or the freedom to peacefully coexist. We want to charge people with that responsibility. We must never forget that although we hold our government accountable, we, too have a level of accountability. It was the people who made the different and caused transformation.”
In the technologically advanced world of today, it’s hard to imagine that when the original mark took place in 1963, there was no social media or Internet available to spread the word. It was the grass-roots organizing efforts of the original 5 “legacy” organizations – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); the National Urban League (NUL); and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), plus the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) that made the March happen, bringing an estimated 250,000 plus people together. This time, organizations helping to organize the 50th Anniversary March include the National Action Network and the National Park Service along with the King Center and 20 other groups fighting for social justice.
“Now there are so many things we are up against, specifically as a community,” says King. “It makes it much more difficult to mobilize and organize because of that. It kind of reminds when the children of Israel were getting ready to cross over and two and a half of the tribes had their possessions and had their land but they had to be reminded that you have to help the others get theirs. There is a segment of our population that is satisfied with their progress but the movement and the message was really about the masses of people. We’ve got to find a way to create a means to ensure that the masses of our people progress.
The only way that’s going to happen is if we learn not to just mobilize but to organize in such a way that people have a daily commitment to the struggle. As my mother said ‘Struggle is a never-ending process, freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it with every generation.’ So we can never be satisfied. We must always be in a mold of moving and challenging and guarding.
”We will be ringing bells at 3 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th. Remember that moment and pause and say ‘What I can do to make a difference in this world, in this society and this community and not just periodically, but on a daily basis.’”
For more information reach out to The King Center (Atlanta, GA) at 404-526-8944 or visit the website. To stay in touch with updated details, go to Twitter; Facebook; Pinterest ; and on Instagram: mlkdream50
See a list of other activities surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington below:
Thursday, August 22
Covering Civil Rights: On the Front Lines, 7 p.m. at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (202-292-6100)
The Newseum, in partnership with the National Council of Negro Women, will host a free evening program where Bernice King, chief executive officer of The King Center and daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is expected to receive the NCNW’s 2013 Leadership Award. Moderated by Sirius XM radio host, Joe Madison, the event will also feature a discussion with Simeon Booker, author of Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement. The program is free and open to the public. Seats are limited and must be reserved at CoveringCivilRights.eventbrite.com.
Saturday, August 24
DC Statehood Rally: Starting at 9 a.m. at the District of Columbia War Memorial, Independence Ave. (north side near MLK Memorial) NW.
Rally participants will attend a short program entitled, Remembering the Legacy. Where Do We Go From Here? before marching as a group to the Lincoln Memorial before the national program to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington.
National Commemorative March on Washington
A commemorative march and rally along the historic 1963 route will be held at the Lincoln Memorial from 8 am-4 pm and a “Global Freedom Festival” will be held on the National Mall from 2-6 pm Among expected participants: Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; Congressman John Lewis; Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader; Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Lee Saunders, president, AFSCME; Janet Murguia, president, The National Council of LaRAZA; Mary Kay Henry, president, Service Employers International Union (SEIU); Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association (NEA); and others.
Sunday, August 25
I Have a Dream Gospel Brunch at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, 11:30 a.m. Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Featuring famed opera singer Denyce Graves backed by a Gospel choir, the commemorative brunch includes a sparkling wine reception, elaborate Southern-style brunch buffet by Executive Chef Luc Dendievel and a commemorative Martin Luther King keepsake. The program includes a dramatic reading from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and stirring rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – penned by poet Julia Ward Howe at the Willard Hotel. Dr. King completed his famous speech at the Willard Hotel where he spent the night before walking to the nearby Lincoln Memorial. Cost for the brunch is $132 pp (includes tax and gratuity). For reservations, call 202-637-7350 or visit washington.intercontinental.com.
Note: The Willard InterContinental is offering two unique hotel packages:
Dream the Dream: One night, double-occupancy, August 24. Deluxe room, I Have a Dream Gospel Brunch and a commemorative keepsake. Rates start at $399.
Dream Discovery: Two nights, double occupancy, thru Sept. 2, 2013. Deluxe room, breakfast in Café du Parc, commemorative keepsake, tickets (Weds.-Sun.) for DC in Black: Civil War to Civil Rights Tour, a five-hour private tour. Rates start at $318, night (two nights minimum).
Tuesday, August 27
50th Anniversary March on Washington Conference on Civil Rights at Howard University. The event will include panel discussions, speakers, and open discussion groups. Registration is required.
Wednesday, August 28
Interfaith Service, Martin Luther King Memorial, West Basin Drive SW at Independence Avenue SW.
Dedicated in 2011, the most recent national memorial in Washington, DC honors Dr. King’s vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice. National Park Service rangers give regularly scheduled talks on the life and contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. An interfaith service will be held at the Memorial on August 28, 2013, from 9-10:30 a.m.
March for Jobs and Justice and Let Freedom Ring, National Mall
The march will begin at 9:30 a.m. Participants will assemble at 600 New Jersey Avenue, Washington DC at 8 a.m. and proceed to the United States Department of Labor at 200 Constitution Avenue, then to the United States Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue and ending at a rally on the National Mall. Following the march (time to be determined) President Barack Obama will speak to the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. At 3 p.m. Let Freedom Ring, an international bell-ringing event designed to inspire unity will take place. To date, groups from places as diverse as Washington, DC; Tokyo, Japan and Lutry, Switzerland.
Six Museum Exhibits Related to the March on Washington:
Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and The March on Washington, 1963, National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
The exhibition, part of the forthcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture, compares and contrasts two pivotal events and their national reverberations today. The exhibition features historic and modern photographs and items ranging from Harriet Tubman’s shawl to a portable version of the Emancipation Proclamation, one created for Union soldiers to read to and distribute among African Americans. The exhibition will run through Sept. 15, 2013.
Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement, Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
The newly-opened permanent exhibit explores the new generation of student leaders in the early 1960s who fought segregation by exercising their First Amendment rights. It spotlights key figures in the student civil rights movement, including future Congressman John Lewis and Julian Bond, who later became chairman of the NAACP and co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Newseum has also launched, Civil Rights at 50. This three-year exhibit will be updated each year to chronicle milestones in the civil rights movement from 1963, 1964 and 1965 through historic front pages, magazines and news images. “Civil Rights at 50” will be on display through 2015.
A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, The Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE.
The exhibition will consist of 40 black-and-white images from newspaper and other media photographers, independent photojournalists and people who participated in the march—represent the cross-section of individuals who were there. Part of the collections in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, the images convey the immediacy of being at the march and the palpable excitement of those who were there. The exhibition will allow visitors to rediscover the context and ongoing legacy of this important event in the country’s history. The exhibit will run August 28, 2013-March 1, 2014.
American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s, National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave NW.
The exhibition explores the issues that were at the forefront of Ringgold’s experience of racial inequality in the United States during the 1960s. An African-American multimedia artist, Ringgold created bold, provocative paintings in direct response to the Civil Rights and feminist movements. The exhibition includes 45 works from the landmark series American People (1963–67) and Black Light (1967–71), along with related murals and political posters. The exhibition will run thru Nov. 10, 2013.
One Life: Martin Luther King Jr., National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW.
With historic photographs, prints, paintings and memorabilia, this exhibition puts the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in cultural context. It covers King’s career from his rise to prominence as the leader of the national civil rights movement to his work as an anti-war activist and advocate for those living in poverty. The exhibit runs thru June 1, 2014.