50th Anniversary Of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech Marked Wednesday

A nationwide commemoration is planned for Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, with one program planned for the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The King Center and the 50th Anniversary Coalition are calling on people and organizations across America to help culminate the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech with “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing events at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, a half-century to the minute after Dr. King delivered his historic address. In other nations, there will be bell-ringing ceremonies at 3 p.m. in their respective time zones.

“We are calling on people across America and throughout the world to join with us as we pause to mark the 50th anniversary of my father’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech with ‘Let Freedom Ring’ bell-ringing events and programs that affirm the unity of people of all races, religions and nations,” said King Center C.E.O. Bernice A. King. “My father concluded his great speech with a call to ‘Let freedom ring,’ and that is a challenge we will meet with a magnificent display of brotherhood and sisterhood in symbolic bell-ringing at places of worship, schools and other venues where bells are available from coast to coast and continent to continent.”

Local groups are encouraged to present diverse commemorative programs, which bring people together across cultural and political lines to celebrate the common humanity in creative and uplifting ways in the spirit of the dream. Ms. King especially urges that all of the programs involve children and young people, since children are mentioned in several passages of her father’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The “Let Freedom Ring” Commemoration & Call to Action” on the National Mall begins Wednesday morning with an interfaith service from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Tidal Basin. That will be followed by the “Let Freedom Ring” Commemoration and Call to Action at the nearby Lincoln Memorial from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. that includes the bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m.

At Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, the park has planned a variety of events for Wednesday in honor of Dr. King. Every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. a movie of Dr. King’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, as well as news reels of 1963 events leading up to the March on Washington, will be shown in the Borglum Visitor Center.

Beginning at 12:45 p.m. in the amphitheater, Malcom Chapman, president of the Chapman Group in Rapid City, will share, “What the Dream Means to Me,” followed by a historic audio presentation of Dr. King’s speech.

Other groups are planning bell-ringing events in places as diverse as Concord, New Hampshire; Allentown Pennsylvania; Lutry, Switzerland; and Tokyo, Japan. Governors of the 50 states have been asked to support the bell-ringing, and many have already responded enthusiastically, with more expected to join the effort. The King Center requests that all groups planning programs submit a brief description of your 50th anniversary ‘Let Freedom Ring’ bell-ringing event to website@thekingcenter.org.

"Let Freedom Ring" will conclude seven days of events commemorating the March on Washington and Dr. King’s Dream speech. For the millions who can’t come to Washington, D.C., for the seven-day program, the local ‘Let Freedom Ring’ programs is seen as a unique opportunity to get involved in a poignant nation-wide and global day of unity in their respective home towns.

“Our World, His Dream: Freedom – Make it Happen” is the theme for the "Let Freedom Ring" commemoration and call to action. This theme is undergirded by the three sub-themes: “Freedom to Prosper in Life;” “Freedom to Peacefully Co-Exist;” and “Freedom to Participate in Government.”