Thousands of marchers are expected in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech and to urge action on jobs, voting rights and gun violence.
The “National Action to Realize the Dream” is being led by civil rights leader and MSNBC television commentator Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, King’s oldest son.
Organizers expect 100,000 people to march from the National Mall’s Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, passing by the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Scheduled speakers include Attorney General Eric Holder; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager killed in Florida last year; and Georgia Democratic Representative John Lewis, the last surviving organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, at which Rev. King delivered his famous speech.
More than 40 groups are expected to participate in Saturday’s march, among them the Service Employees International Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the American Federation of Teachers.
The march aims to call attention to such issues as employment, voting rights, gun violence, women’s rights and immigration reform.
Despite large gains politically and educationally, nearly half of those who responded to a new poll by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., think a lot more needs to be done to achieve the color-blind society King envisioned.
King was among six organizers of the 1963 march, which was part of the U.S. civil rights movement. He led about 250,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall and delivered his “I have a dream” speech from its steps.
The speech and march helped spur passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965, respectively.
King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at age 39.
President Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, is scheduled to speak on Wednesday, August 28, at a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. The commemoration is to include a nationwide ringing of bells at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT).