TRIBUNE WASHINTON BUREAU/MCT
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will speak at the 50th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, weeks after his comments on the George Zimmerman verdict stirred a national discussion of race in America.
Obama will deliver his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
The King Center in Atlanta is organizing the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony, which will commemorate Dr. King’s speech and include an interfaith religious service and a bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m. The Rev. Al Sharpton is also organizing a separate anniversary march entitled “No Justice, No Peace” on Aug. 24, which will focus on voter rights, racial profiling, poverty and other social issues.
Good time for reflection
Approximately 250,000 participants marched on Washington in 1963 — 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation — calling for civil and economic rights for African-Americans.
The march, one of the largest rallies for human rights in U.S. history, helped pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
In a July 27 interview with The New York Times, Obama said he had an original program from the march framed in his office.
“It’s part of my generation’s formative memory and it’s a good time for us to do some reflection,” he said, adding that the impetus for the march was economic justice.
“That was a march for jobs and justice,” Obama said. “There was a massive economic component to that.”