Yesterday marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) and features a guest list of civil rights leaders and celebrities. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are scheduled to speak, while actor Hill Harper and broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien are set to host the roughly four-hour event. Other guests include actress and talk show host Oprah Winfrey; actors Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker; musicians Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, who performed with Mary Travers at the original march in 1963; and members of the King family. The event will take place at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.
The White House announced earlier this month that Mr. Obama would speak at the event, which is organized by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Mayor William Bell was invited to participate earlier this week as part of the ringing of the bell from the historic 16th Baptist Church. Mayor Bell will join the President on stage and will take part in the ringing of the bell at 3:00 p.m., the time of the original speech.
“We are honored to be a part of such a historic day. If not for Birmingham, there would have been no march on Washington. The blood shed here paved the way for the Civil Rights movement around the world and we are reminded every day that freedom is never free, “said Mayor William Bell.
City workers, whose families participated in the Civil Rights marches in Birmingham in 1963, transported the bell from Birmingham to the Lincoln Memorial earlier this week. The bell survived the church bombing in 1963 and has come to embody the sentiment of “let freedom ring.”
The City of Birmingham, Alabama and its citizens are partners in the campaign “50 Years Forward: The Movement that Changed the World,” an ongoing commemoration of the profound and often tragic events that took place here in 1963. Birmingham’s year long commemoration will culminate with Empowerment Week, September 11-15, 2013, with Sunday, September 15th marking the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the death of the 4 little girls.
For more information about the City of Birmingham’s commemoration, visit www.50yearsforward.com #50yearsforward