On Wednesday, thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial as President Barack Obama delivered a speech at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Obama thanked the surviving members of the King family for their sacrifices in the Civil Rights Movement as well as former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. The day’s events included remarks from Caroline Kennedy as well as members of the Lyndon Johnson and King families.
“We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike,” said President Obama, as he addressed the large crowd.
“His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time,” he added.
The President also spoke of the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on national politics and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goals – decent wages, fair working conditions, affordable and reasonable housing arrangements – for African Americans was applicable to all races in the working class.
In the past 5 years, African American’s have made significant financial strides but according to President Obama, there is still much work to be done.
“Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades,” said President Obama. “The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate. But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together.”
President Obama concluded saying, “We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago. “