The nation's capital is filled with commemorations for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Aug. 28, 1963, which Martin Luther King, Jr. called "the greatest demonstration for freedom in the nation's history."
President Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will commemorate the 50th anniversary on Aug. 28, by delivering remarks at the Lincoln Memorial for a Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event.
Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter, with King family members, will honor Dr. King's call to "Let freedom ring", by ringing bells at 3 P.M. EDT, a half-century to the minute after the civil rights leader delivered his historic address.
Groups across the country will pause at 3 P.M. EDT and ring bells to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's speech.
President Clinton said, "Martin Luther King's unforgettable speech inspired millions of Americans to make a deeply personal commitment to racial equality and economic justice. Its wisdom and power continues to inspire us today. I'm honored to lend my voice to this important celebration of one of our greatest leaders and most historic days."
President Carter said, "It is an honor to participate in this ceremony as we remember a great man, a heroic leader and a noble message that still rings as true today as it did 50 years ago. This commemorative event is an opportunity to speak about Dr. King's dream of equal rights and equal opportunity for all. Dr. King's legacy remains an inspiration for us all on this special anniversary and will continue to for generations to come."
The Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event will take place on Wednesday from 11:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Lincoln Memorial.
It follows last Saturday's 50th Anniversary March on Washington from the Lincoln Memorial to the King Memorial.
The National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History & Culture present the exhibit "One Life: Martin Luther King Jr." through June 1, 2014, as well as a Family Day about it Aug. 24.
-- "One Life: Martin Luther King Jr." presents photographs of Dr. King as he rose to prominence in the civil rights movement through the end of his life. It also displays buttons and programs from the March on Washington; original art from his "Time" Man of the Year cover; and "Life" issues covering his assassination and funeral.
-- Family Day Aug. 24 at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)
-- Noon: Ann Shumard, curator of "One Life: Martin Luther King Jr." leads a tour
-- Noon–12:30 P.M. and other times until 3 P.M., Kim and Reggie Harris perform "Songs of Hope & Freedom"
-- 12:35 P.M.: NPG staff read the story "Martin’s Big Words"
-- 1:30 P.M.: NPG docents' choice tour includes "One Life: Martin Luther King Jr."
-- 1:30–2:00 P.M.: March on Washington narratives from National Education Association members
-- Throughout the event, visitors can make slogan-buttons.
- "Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963" at the National Museum of American History
"Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963" commemorates two of the most important events in the history of African American equality.
The "Changing America" exhibit, sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, features:
-- The pen President Lyndon Johnson used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The March on Washington galvanized support for passage of this landmark civil rights legislation.
-- A marshal's armband from the March on Washington
-- The guitar played by Joan Baez at the march
-- Shards of stained glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which killed four young girls in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963
-- The inkstand President Abraham Lincoln used to draft the Emancipation Proclamation, whose 150th anniversary was Jan. 1
-- Lincoln's top hat he wore to Ford's Theatre the night he was assassinated, April 14, 1865
-- Harriet Tubman's lace handkerchief and collar. "The most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad who was responsible for helping enslaved people escape from bondage to freedom," President Obama described Tubman in a proclamation honoring her last March, the 100th anniversary of her death.
The "Changing America" exhibit, which has been extended until Sept. 7, 2014, has special tours.
- "The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Commemoration" on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the National Museum of American History
-- Tours of "Changing America"
-- An open–microphone session for visitors to share thoughts and memories of the march
-- Film footage from the march projected in the museum.
Also, the National Museum of American History has an ongoing series, featuring "Historic Theater: Join the Student Sit-Ins at the Greensboro Lunch Counter", an interactive 15-20–minute performance that invites visitors to take part in a training session for sit-ins, using a 1960s manual. It's presented at the museum's Greensboro Lunch Counter exhibit several times a day on most Tuesdays through Sundays through August.
Another commemoration is Smithsonian Folkways' new recording, Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement, highlighting "the important role that music played in uniting, energizing, expressing, and sustaining momentum among participants in the African American civil rights movement," the Smithsonian said.
As Dr. King always said, "Music is the sound track of the movement."
The National Archives' commemorations include:
- Display of an emblematic photograph "One Face Among Thousands: Remembering the March on Washington" Aug. 20 through Sept. 9
- Screenings of "The March", James Blue’s 1964 documentary, on Aug. 26, 27, 28 at noon.
- A program Sept. 12 at 7 P.M based on "Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington" (Thomas Dunne Books, Aug. 2013). Author Kitty Kelley, who wrote the book's text, will be joined by Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children's Defense Fund and March on Washington participant, and journalist Soledad O’Brien for a discussion. Tretick's photos, which had never been published before, will be projected on a screen, and Garrick Jordan will sing. A book signing will follow the program.
Highlights of the National Archives' extensive holdings from the March on Washington can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/NARAMLK50.
The Library of Congress opens "A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington" on the anniversary, Aug. 28.
"A Day Like No Other" presents 42 black-and-white images from news photographers, independent photojournalists, and participants in the march, including:
- Members of Magnum Photos, one of the world’s most prestigious photography agencies, such as Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, and Danny Lyon
- Freelance photojournalists Bob Adelman and Flip Schulke, known for their coverage of the civil rights movement
- AP, UPI, "New York World-Telegram and Sun", "U.S. News & World Report", and "Look" magazine photographers, who captured event preparations and leaders
- Photographer David S. Johnson, a student of Ansel Adams.
As the march's main organizer, A. Philip Randolph (president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) said, "The March on Washington is not the climax of our struggle, but a new beginning not only for the Negro but for all Americans who thirst for freedom and a better life."
These events inspire all Americans to continue that struggle to realize the dream of freedom and a better life.