Father Frank and I will attend 8/28 celebration for 50 years after March on Washington and I Have a Dream speech.
Fifty years ago, a valiant group of people from across America and around the globe embarked on a “March on Washington.” While there have been many marches on Washington possibly before and certainly afterwards, the 1963 March on Washington remains the premier example of how unity of heart and spirit can transform a community, a nation and a world.
My parents, A.D. and Naomi King attended the March, and were there when their famous brother/brother-in-law delivered the now famous I HAVE A DREAM speech. Back then, they were marching for jobs, decent housing and decent education. Of course, then as well as now, jobs, housing and education remain in the category of issues that impact all human beings from a common perspective. After all, everyone needs some form of income to provide food and shelter, and we all need some form of intellectual enlightenment.
Fifty years later, the March has taken on a different flavor, and is more cause oriented than the counterpart of days gone by. The 2013 March includes themes that go beyond those basic demands of 1963. History teaches us that causes can divide people while Agape Love can unite. During his lifetime, my Uncle M. L. spoke of a dream, he spoke of a “Beloved Community.”
For the last several days, people have tempted me to delve into the political melee about who is right about one cause or another. Yet, I still cling to the hope that Agape Love will take the place of political and moral turpitude, and that people will rise above debates about tolerance and reach rather for compassion and transformation.
I will join the hundreds of thousands in DC over the next few days. I’m asking you to join us, and if you can’t come, please pray with us. Some of the upcoming events promise to be exciting and soul stirring. As my cousin Bernice says:
“The response to our call to commemorate the March on Washington and my father’s “I Have a Dream” speech has been overwhelming,” said King Center C.E.O. Bernice A. King, a convener of the nation-wide and global mobilization. “Our coalition has organized a wonderful, diverse program, which begins in Atlanta, continues for 8 days in Washington, D.C. and culminates with a global bell-ringing. We expect hundreds of thousands of people to join us in the nation’s capitol for this historic event, and many more to take part world-wide in their communities.”
On Sunday, August 25th The King Center will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech by participating in a gospel brunch sponsored by the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts at 11:30 a.m. in the grand ballroom of the Willard InterContinental, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington D.C. Dr. King put the finishing touches on his famous speech in his suite at the Willard Hotel the night before the pivotal August 28, 1963 March on Washington civil rights rally.
On Tuesday, August 27th the King Center will co-host the K-12th Grade Educational Initiative at the “School Without Walls,” a Washington, D.C. public school. The event is for students, but the public is invited to stream the program from http://officialmlkdream50.com/. My mother, Mrs. Naomi King and my cousin Dr. Angela Farris Watkins are slated to speak at the forum that day.
The King Center, along with the National Park Service and others, is co-sponsoring a full day of activities on August 28th, the actual anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. There will be an Interfaith Service at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC from 8:30 (prelude) to 10:30 a.m. that will include a variety of religious disciplines.
That afternoon there will be a “Let Freedom Ring Call to Action and Commemoration Ceremony” from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C will feature remarks from President Obama, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the King Family, elected officials, international dignitaries, celebrities, youth and leaders from national and international organizations. The program is global in nature and will include performances by a Haka Team from New Zealand and Junkanoo Performers from the Bahamas. Confirmed program participants include: Kid President, Jaime Fox, Peter and Paul, Hill Harper, Soledad O’Brien, Lynda Johnson Robb, Bebe Winans Shirley Caesar, Heather Headley and others to be announced. A song I wrote, “Let Freedom Ring” will also be performed that day. For more details, go to http://officialmlkdream50.com/.
Bernice says that her father’s call to “Let Freedom Ring” in his speech will be answered with programs and bell-ringing ceremonies across the nation on August 28th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. In addition to the diverse activities scheduled for Washington, D.C., programs celebrating the ’63 March and Dr. King’s dream with bell-ringing ceremonies have thus far been scheduled in places as diverse as: Montgomery, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Stone Mountain, Roswell, Rome and Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Topeka, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Boston, Massachusetts; Chaska Minnesota; Tougaloo College, Jackson, Greenwood and Columbus, Mississippi; Jefferson City, Missouri; Amherst, Concord, Isles of Shoals, Nashua, North Conway, Pelham and Mt. Washington, New Hampshire; New York, New York; Delaware and Grandville, Ohio; Allentown, Lafayette College and Allegheny College, Pennsylvania; Nyack, New York; Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; Austin, Houston and Dallas, Texas; Marion Cross School, Norwich, Vermont; and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, with more being added every day.
Bell-ringing programs will take place outside the U.S. at 3:00 p.m. in their respective time zones in locations as diverse as: Kathmandu, Nepal; Lutry and Montreaux, Switzerland; Monrovia, Liberia; London, U.K.; and Tokyo, Japan.
In my heart of hearts I truly believe that we all long to be “free at last.” I’m not sure how many remember the rest of the phrase from that speech delivered so long ago: “Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last.” As we approach the March and the Bell Ringing Ceremony, let us pray for each other, and love one another so that we can ascend above the looming abyss that threatens to reach that higher ground.