News / USA

US Honors March on Washington 50th Anniversary

  • From left, former President Jimmy Carter, former President Bill Clinton, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, first lady Michelle Obama, and President Barack Obama stand for the national anthem during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington,  Aug. 28,2013.
  • Three women who attended marches in the past, from left, Armanda Hawkins of Memphis, Vera Moore of Washington, and Betty Waller Gray of Richmond, Va., (holding sign) listen to the speakers during the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The group Junkaroo performs at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 28, 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 28, 2013.
  • Crowds gather on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, 2013.
  • Martin Luther King III speaks during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of his father Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, August 28, 2013. 
  • People gather around the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 2013, to listen to President Barack Obama speak during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
  • President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton and former president Jimmy Carter arrive at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
  • Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton arrive at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 28, 2013.
  • Stanley Samuels, Rita Samuels and Sammie Whiting-Ellis wait for the anniversary program to begin as they attend the March on Washington, in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, August 28, 2013.
  • Actor Jamie Foxx speaks during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, August 28, 2013. 
  • A woman stands in the crowd taking part in the anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, 2013. (R. Green/VOA)
  • Marchers stand in the rain in front of the Washington Monument, August 28, 2013. (R. Green/VOA)
  • Crowds gather for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, 2013. (D. Manis for VOA)
  • A man sells souvenir shirts for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, 2013. (D. Manis for VOA)
The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Addressing hundreds of thousands of people commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for civil rights, President Barack Obama Wednesday referred to "unfinished business" in the struggle for equality and justice in America. 

Fifty years after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at a time of severe racial injustice and inequality in America, the nation's first black president stood in the same place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1963, King's address energized the civil rights movement and paved the way for major legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against minorities and women.

Mr. Obama paid tribute to the late civil rights leader and the sacrifices of those who marched in Washington to bring transformation to America.

"Because they marched, a civil rights law was passed.  Because they marched, a voting rights law was signed.  Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes.  Because they marched, city councils changed, and state legislatures changed and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually the White House changed," Obama said.

Mr. Obama said those who marched in 1963 brought change not just for African Americans, but other racial and ethnic groups, women and gay Americans, and for those yearning for freedom around the world.

"America changed for you and for me, and the entire world drew strength from that example, whether it be the young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid," he said.

Mr. Obama's address marked one of only a few occasions since he was first elected to the White House in 2008 that he has spoken on a national stage about issues of race.

It also came amid new concerns about setbacks to civil rights from, among other things, the recent Supreme Court decision striking down a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Mr. Obama said those who suggest little has changed in America dishonor the sacrifice of those who marched in 1963.  

At the same time, he said the work is not complete. He noted challenges to voting rights, high unemployment rates for African-Americans and Latinos, and other problems he said require vigilance.

"To secure the gains that this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency, whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from under-funded schools to overcrowded jails.  It requires vigilance," he said.

Mr. Obama referred to a growing wealth gap among races, and the eroding position of working Americans, something he said makes the dream that King described "more elusive."

The president decried what he called "the politics of division" in Washington.

"We now have a choice.  We can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations, where politics is a zero-sum game, where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie," he said.  "That's one path.  Or we can have the courage to change."

A long list of speakers including present-day civil rights leaders, a son and daughter of King, and television and movie stars, also addressed the crowd on the National Mall.

Former president Bill Clinton spoke about the sour national political atmosphere.

"We don't face beatings, lynchings and shootings for our political beliefs anymore, and I would respectively suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock," Clinton said.  "It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back."

Former president Jimmy Carter criticized the Supreme Court decision striking down the key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

"I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new ID requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African Americans," Carter said.  "I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the Supreme Court striking down a crucial part of the Voters Rights Act just recently passed overwhelmingly by Congress."

John Lewis, the last surviving member of the leadership of the March on Washington in 1963, pointed to progress, but said racism remains embedded in American society.

King's youngest child, Rev. Bernice King, spoke about her father's message in 1963 to "Let Freedom Ring," but said despite great strides, more work remains.

"Today, 50 years later, my friends, we are still crippled by practices and policies steeped in racial pride, hatred and hostility, some of which have us standing our ground rather than finding common ground," she said.

President Obama's speech came as he faces one of the momentous decisions of his presidency, whether to launch a military strike on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons there.


You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kimberly Michelle Scott from: Montgomery, AL
August 30, 2013 12:33 AM
It is great to see positive African American events being expressed in the community, as they are so often overlooked. We must continue to hold events like this so our voices will not grow silent.

- Kimberly Michelle Scott, Author
http://kimberlymscott.wix.com/kmscott


by: riano baggy from: indonesia
August 28, 2013 8:03 AM
yes King's dream first in US but now still a dream for another countries for their democracy and civil rights. We hope and believe, with power ,hard work and confidence and unity,we can reach our dreams come true .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid