March On Washington, Remembered

Aug 24, 2013
Originally published on August 24, 2013 11:39 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Thousands of people have gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital, to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when some 250,000 people demonstrated for civil rights and heard one of the greatest speeches in American history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: ...brothers. I have a dream today...

SIMON: Organizers framed today's march as both an homage to that earlier event, and a continuation of the struggle for civil rights. The mayor of Newark, N.J., Cory Booker, spoke at the event. He said he wasn't alive for the first march but 50 years on, there's more to do.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER: When the leading cause of death for black men my age and younger is gun violence, we still have work to do. When we still have a justice system that treats the economically disadvantaged and minorities different than others, we still have work to do. When you can, in America, work a full-time job plus overtime and still be below the stifling line of poverty, we still have work to do...

SIMON: Pastors who spoke at the prayer service opening the event touched on similar themes

THE REV. JAMES FORBES: Brothers and sisters, do you hear what I hear from the throne of God? Listen. To keep quoting the "I Have a Dream" speech and not acting resolutely to do something about it, is hypocrisy...

THE REV. ELAINE FLAKE: And we lift our voices in expectation that those who yet bow to the gods of racial discrimination and stereotyping will soon see the light of your love and compassion...

SIMON: That was the Rev. James Forbes, of Riverside Church in New York; and the Rev. Elaine Flake, of the Greater Allen Cathedral in New York. Among the speakers today: Attorney General Eric Holder, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and the parents of Trayvon Martin. The event concludes with a march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.