Obama to speak at March on Washington anniversary

WASHINGTON – President 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 on 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” event, which will commemorate King’s speech and include an interfaith religious service and a bell-ringing ceremony. The Rev. Al Sharpton is also organizing a separate anniversary march called “No Justice, No Peace,” on Aug. 24, which will focus on voter rights, racial profiling, poverty and other social issues.

About 250,000 protesters 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 and Voting Rights Act.

In an 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 economic justice was also a key part of the 1963 march.

“That was a march for jobs and justice,” Obama said. “There was a massive economic component to that.”

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