A COMMEMORATIVE march was held in Washington, DC, on
Wednesday, at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 50 years
to the day since 250,000 people gathered in the same
place to hear the Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jr deliver
his "I have a dream" speech (
Comment, 23 August). President Obama addressed the
event, and churches acrossthe US rang bells at 3 p.m.,
marking the exact time when Dr King spoke.
Dr King's words were seen as instrumental in changing
attitudes, and bringing about the Civil Rights Act in the
United States, which outlawed racial segregation in
schools, workplaces, and public places.
Mr Obama said: "Five decades ago today,
Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made
at our founding: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and
the pursuit of Happiness.'. . .
"Across the land, congregations sent them off with food
and with prayer. . . We rightly and best remember
Dr King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the
quiet hopes of millions. . .
"But we would do well to recall that day itself also
belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the
history books, never got on TV. . . In the face of hatred,
they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they
stood up and sat in, with the moral force of nonviolence. .
"The March on Washington teaches us that we are not
trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our
fate. But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will
only be kept when we work together."
The Diocese of Washington reported that a group from the
congregation of Washington National Cathedral was among the
marchers, alongside signs that decried the
current state of the nation's jobless, oppressed and ill-treated.
"Justice for Trayvon Martin," "What do we want. . . JOBS, When do
we want them. . . NOW!" were some of the signs in front of the
Last Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched to
the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington to mark the
anniversary. The eldest son of the murdered civil-rights leader,
Martin Luther King III, told the crowd: "This is not the time for
nostalgic commemoration. Nor is this the time for
self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey
is not complete. We can and we must do more."
On Sunday, the Dean of Washington National
Cathedral, the Very Revd Gary Hall, pledged to take his
congregation through a time of "self-examination, renewal, and
reform". "How can we live into the dream articulated by Dr King,
when the evils we face in 2013 are so much more insidious than they
were in 1963? The enemy today looks and acts very much like you and
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, urged people to
remember that it was the actions of one woman - Rosa Parks, who
refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger - which
was one of the significant actions that set the movement
In an article in theYorkshire Poston Saturday, he
wrote: "Too often, people believe that their own contribution is
not important. I tell you, friends, one drop of water can turn a
waterwheel. Always aim high, and never give up hope."
Events were also held in churches in Britain to mark
the 50th anniversary of the speech. In St James in the City,
Liverpool, the congregation listened to a recording of the speech,
and were asked to share their own hopes and dreams.
The Vicar of St James's, the Revd Neil Short, said:
"Fifty years on, Martin Luther King's speech is highly relevant.
One of the biggest issues we face today is lack of hope. We need a
dream. Without a dream, the people perish. We need bold leaders and
bold dreams, and this service is about inspiring us all to think
big, and to have, in the words of Martin Luther King, 'the audacity
March on Washington from
Episcopal Diocese of Washington