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.