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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora