The 50th anniversary of the 1963 “March On Washington” took place Wednesday (August 28) and despite wet weather conditions, the star-studded event drew thousands. With President Barack Obama delivering the anchoring speech, he and other guests delivered a message of togetherness and hope.
Much like Rev. Al Sharpton’s “Realize The Dream” march the weekend prior, there were ticketed and public areas separating attendees on the grounds of the National Mall. Closer to the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, celebrities and elected officials mingled with the crowd and paused for as many photo opportunities their media teams would allow.
NBA legend Isiah Thomas, Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, Georgetown University professor Eric Michael Dyson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and more shook hands with fans and fellow speakers alike during the “Let Freedom Ring” event. Rising notables such as Dream Defenders’ Philip Agnew and Kid President were also gracious in stopping for snaps.
After rousing speeches from former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Obama took the podium and delivered an effective, slowly building speech. As with the original theme of the 1963 march, the president made economic equality for all races the central point of his remarks.
Obama at the Lincoln Memorial:
The test was not, and never has been, whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many; For the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call, this remains our great unfinished business.
We spoke with Angie Reese-Carswell of Maryland, and she said that she was too young to attend the first march. For the anniversary, however, she felt an obligation not only to attend, but to hopefully spread the importance of the event to young people in her life.
“Voting rights, civil rights, the same things back then are still happening today,” she said. “We’ve been through it so we owe it to young people to fight alongside with them.”