August 28, 2013

50th anniversary of the March on Washington: Obama exemplifies, honors 'Dream'

The first black U.S. president will pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of racial equality.

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE The Associated Press

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Dorothy Meekins holds up a flag with a picture of President Obama as she attends the rally in Washington on Saturday commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. In an interview Tuesday, Obama said he imagined King “would be amazed in many ways about the progress we’ve made.”

The Associated Press


WASHINGTON — Maine Sen. Angus King is expected to deliver brief remarks from the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday as part of the ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

King was in the crowd on Aug. 28, 1963, as the late civil rights leader delivered those famous lines during an event that still ranks as the largest civil rights rally in U.S. history. Now 69 and a U.S. senator, King was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to participate in Wednesday's events.

"It was an honor to witness Dr. King's speech firsthand, and it is again an honor to lend my voice in tribute to one of our nation's greatest and most noble leaders," King said in a statement.

Sen. King's office said the senator is slated to give his brief remarks around 11:30 a.m.

A host of civil rights and national leaders -- including President Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter -- are also slated to participate in the 50th anniversary ceremonies.

The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

– Kevin Miller, Press Herald Washington Bureau Chief

"I think he would say it was a glorious thing," he said.

But Obama noted that King's speech was also about jobs and justice. "When it comes to the economy, when it comes to inequality, when it comes to wealth, when it comes to the challenges that inner cities experience, he would say that we have not made as much progress as the civil and social progress that we've made, and that it's not enough just to have a black president, it's not enough just to have a black syndicated radio show host," Obama said.

When he was much younger, it took Obama time to embrace his black-white, African and American heritage. He chronicled that personal journey in his best-selling memoir, "Dreams From My Father," in which he wrote about himself as "the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds."

After Zimmerman was acquitted, Obama spoke out to help people understand black outrage over the verdict. In unusually personal terms, Obama talked about experiences he shares with so many other black men, before he became a well-known public figure, such as being followed in department stores and hearing the click of car doors being locked as he walked by.

He said the African-American community was looking at the issue "through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."

In Wednesday's speech, Obama will offer his personal reflections on the civil rights movement, King's speech, the progress achieved in the past 50 years and the challenges that demand attention from the next generation.

Obama has said King is one of two people he admires "more than anybody in American history." The other is Abraham Lincoln.

First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to join the president as he commemorates the march. She saluted one of the march's organizers Whitney Young at a screening on Tuesday for the documentary "The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights."


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