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 Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora