U.S. commemorates 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Tens of thousands of marchers on Wednesday gathered in misty rains on Washington’s National Mall to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech given 50 years ago.

While addressing the marchers from a podium erected on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial, U.S. President Barack Obama called for courage as the nation faces challenges in securing economic justice for its people, saying economic justice was “our great unfinished business” of the civil rights battle.

“Five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding,” said Obama, as he remembered the inspiration brought by King’s landmark speech.

“Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered and never died,” said Obama. “America changed for you and for me. And the entire world drew strength from that example.”

The president didn’t stop there. He went on to say the work of civil rights leaders such as King was not complete, as “the arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”

“The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It’s whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white steel worker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran,” said Obama. “To win that battle, to answer that call, this remains our great unfinished business.”

The marchers also listened to speeches from presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and members of King’s family on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the site of King’s address on Aug. 28, 1963.

A bell rang at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), 50 years to the time after King ended his call of the civil rights movement with the words “Let freedom ring.” King was assassinated in April 1968.

In Los Angeles, the U.S. state of California, more than two dozens of participants also gathered in front of the City Hall to commemorate the landmark civil rights moment.

The event, dubbed as the “Promissory Note Civil Rights Rally,” which was organized by the Capitol Hill National Causus, a Los Angeles-based civil rights organization, featured emotional speeches, singing of patriotic songs, bringing a light yet solemn air to the nearly two-hour gathering.(Xinhua)

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