Thousands of marchers have taken to the streets of Washington, D.C. to march for “Jobs and Justice,” mirroring the same events from half a century ago when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others lead the March on Washington. President Barack Obama will deliver a speech in honor of the “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration at the Lincoln Memorial, according to The Daily Mail. He is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m.
Reportedly, Obama will stand in the same spot where on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Dr. King delivered his integral “I Have A Dream” speech to 250,000 participants in 1963.
Obama has made clear that half a century of time is the perfect time for reflection. During a radio interview with “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Obama mentioned a variety of advancements in U.S. racial equality, including equal rights before the law, a more accessible judicial system, and increases in Black elected officials and chief executives.
But Obama noted that Dr. King’s speech was also about jobs and justice:
When it comes to the economy, when it comes to inequality, when it comes to wealth, when it comes to the challenges that inner cities experience, he would say that we have not made as much progress as the civil and social progress that we’ve made, and that it’s not enough just to have a black president, it’s not enough just to have a black syndicated radio show host.
Steam the day’s festivities, including Obama’s speech here:
International commemorations of the march will also be held in Trafalgar Square in London, as well as countries like Japan, Switzerland, Nepal, and Liberia. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that King’s speech continues to resonate all over the world and praised it as one of the greatest works of oratory.
Some of the domestic sites commemorating the speech include The Brown vs. Board of Education Historic Site in Topeka, Kan., which represents the integration of American public schools in 1954. It remains unclear what Obama will say in his speech, which he has written himself, but many believe that it will attempt to bridge contemporary youth with the 1960s Civil Rights movement.
When asked about the progress we’ve made in the last 50 years, Obama told Joyner the following:
When you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history. And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched.
Although King was murdered in Memphis, Tenn., five days after giving his speech, many believe Obama’s election to office as the first Black President of the United States to be one giant step toward King’s dream being realized. The march itself is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act in 1965.
For Obama, the march is a “seminal event” and a part of his generation’s “formative memory.”
First Lady Michelle Obama saluted one of the march’s organizers, Whitney Young, last night at a screening of the documentary “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights.”
She called the former executive director of the National Urban League one of the “unsung heroes in our history whose impact we still feel today”: For every Dr. King, there is a Whitney Young or a Roy Wilkins or a Dorothy Height, each of whom played a critical role in the struggle for change. And then there are the millions of Americans, regular folks out there, whose names will never show up in the history books.