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50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

August 28 marks the half-centennial of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.


Re-live the “I Have a Dream” speech, which was uttered to 250,000 strong, and celebrate civil rights history throughout August and beyond in Washington, DC. Experience ceremonial events related to the half-centennial of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—including a commemorative march on Aug. 24. On top of the 50th anniversary, there are plenty of other attractions that champion civil rights history in the United States—some of which date all the way back to the Civil War.

50th Anniversary March
Aug. 24
Martin L. King, III and the National Action Network will lead a commemorative march for civil rights as part of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The procession will take place starting from the Lincoln Memorial and ending at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. In speaking of the mission of the half-centennial mark, Reverend Al Sharpton said it will be to “link the goals of the traditional civil rights and labor organization to a new generation of leaders; and to take a renewed message of civil and human rights to Capitol Hill.”

"I Have A Dream" Gospel Brunch
Aug. 25
The Willard InterContinental, where Dr. King finished writing his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, will host its first-ever gospel brunch, featuring renowned opera singer Denyce Graves. Ms. Graves will be singing a variety of gospel and spiritual selections, as will the Voices of Worship choir under the direction of Felicia Kessel-Crawley. The brunch will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 25 and will include a sparkling wine reception, Southern-style brunch buffet and a Martin Luther King keepsake.

Prelude to a Dream
Aug. 27
The MARCH Civil Rights Opera Project will host a series of events in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The first, entitled “Prelude to a Dream,” will be a mass meeting performance dramatizing events that occurred on the eve of the march. “Prelude to a Dream” can be observed at the Enon Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md. on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. and at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, DC on Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. A benefit gala entitled “Postlude to a Dream” will be held Aug. 28 at the Carnegie Library in D.C., in honor of Joyce Ladner and Courtland Cox, two members of the committee who led the March on Washington.

Freedom Festival, Bell-Ringing Events on National Mall
Aug. 24 to Aug. 28
The Global Freedom Festival, open for four days starting Aug. 24, will be centrally located on the National Mall and will include education and entertaining experiences for young leaders run by the National Park Service and The King Center. The mission of the Freedom Festival is to focus on the “freedom to participate in government, freedom to prosper in life and freedom to peacefully co-exist.” Meanwhile, the “Let Freedom Ring Bell-Ringing Ceremony” will be held at the Lincoln Memorial at 3 p.m. on Aug. 28, and every state in the country will ring their bell at precisely that time.
More information can also be found here.

“A Day Like No Other” at the Library of Congress
Aug. 28 – Feb. 28
On the day of the official 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the Library of Congress will unveil “A Day Like No Other,” an exhibit containing 42 black-and-white images from the event in 1963. The images were collected from newspapers and photojournalists who attended the March and the exhibition is free and open to the public Monday to Saturday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Civil Rights Museum on Wheels
Aug. 12 – 31
Ms. Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala. bus. Now, that bus has made history and it’s coming to DC this summer. Experience the fully restored GMC 1950s bus, which is also outfitted with audio and visual interactive displays and the official yellow-green paint job. Look for the most famous bus in U.S. history on the National Mall.

American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s
Present  –  Nov. 10
Open since June, African American artist Faith Ringold’s exhibit at the National Museum of Women is described as “post-cubist Picasso, pop art, and traditional African sculpture.” Inspired by the feminist and Civil Rights movements in the ‘60s and ‘70s, her artwork explores racial integration in the nation.  The exhibition features 45 works, including the Black Light paintings, which are partly inspired by African-style art practices.

JFK at the Newseum 
Present – Jan. 15
Although he wouldn’t live to sign the Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act into law, President John F. Kennedy called for the legislation. Go behind the scenes in the life of the 35th president at this state-of-the-art museum’s three exhibits dedicated to JFK.

Lincoln Memorial
A plaque on the steps of the memorial marks the exact spot where Dr. King stood when giving his “I Have a Dream” speech. Honoring the 16th president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the memorial is one of the most iconic sites on the National Mall and is a symbol of freedom for all.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Admire the fourth non-president memorial on the National Mall, which features a 30-foot-tall statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders, which started as one, represent the Mountain of Despair. Scattered throughout the memorial are memorable quotes from the civil rights leader.

Greensboro Lunch Counter at National Museum of American History
Behold a section of the Woolworth’s lunch counter, where four African American students held a non-violent sit-in to protest segregation. The efforts of the four students caught on as they helped spark a movement toward racial equality throughout the country.

The Willard
Famous for its lobby which spawned the term “lobbying,” the Willard was also where Dr. King completed his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and where President Lincoln once held cabinet meetings. Stroll the majestic lobby, have a drink at the Round Robin Scotch bar and experience this historic hotel firsthand.

Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.
Not only will Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit inspire people during the half-centennial on the March on Washington, he still stands at Madame Tussauds Downtown. Snap a shot next to a life-like wax statue of the non-violent civil rights leader, and then take a picture with another champion of civil rights, President Abraham Lincoln.

Capital Hilton
Following the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963, the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement gathered at the Capital Hilton’s Congressional Room for a press conference and to discuss follow-up activities to the historic day. Earlier that summer, civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and present day Congressman John Lewis, also met at Capital Hilton, then known as the Statler-Hilton, before walking two blocks down to the White House to meet with President Kennedy and to reveal their plans for the March on Washington. Visit the hotel’s lobby and Statler Lounge, and then retrace the steps of the “Big Six” down to the White House.

Nighttime is a popular time to see Washingtonâs monuments and memorials. The white stones gleam against the dark sky, and visitors can take advantage of the relative quiet to contemplate lessons of history and leadership.
Nighttime is a popular time to see Washington’s monuments and memorials. The white stones gleam against the dark sky, and visitors can take advantage of the relative quiet to contemplate lessons of history and leadership. - Photo by Johnny Bivera
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