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Civil Rights March Marks 40th Anniversary of Famed King Speech

The civil rights march planned for Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, called by the NAACP, brought some 250,000 people to Washington, DC. An estimated 100,000 civil rights supporters will gather in Washington, DC this weekend for the March on Washington. March organizers are calling the event a “rolling mobilization” that will not end on Saturday but will keep going for 15 months, with events coinciding with the State of the Union address, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, political conventions, and the 2004 elections.

“It’s very ironic that 40 years ago, my father and his team were talking about jobs, peace, and freedom,” Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian leadership Conference, the group Dr. King co-founded, told Atlanta Daily World. “And in a real sense, we’re still there. We never have brought it to full fruition.” The theme of this years’ march is “Return, Repair, Renew.” The importance of building momentum for a massive drive to increase voter registration and participation is a major part of the “rolling mobilization.” “I think now we have to march to the polls to vote,” Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women and the only woman on Dr. King’s Council on United Civil Rights Leadership, told the Wilmington Journal. “You stay home, you’re simply giving your civil rights away,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), according to the Journal. “You are not going to make any progress on civil rights legislation or on … racially harmful legislation as long as you have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president.”

The weekend’s events will feature the unveiling of the inscription of Dr. King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Friday at 4 p.m. by Coretta Scott King. Saturday’s events include an opening plenary at 10 a.m., teach-ins during the day, and a mass rally at 3 p.m., all also on the Lincoln Memorial grounds.

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Sources:

Atlanta Daily World 8/20/03; Wilmington Journal 8/19/03; March on Washington