Dreaming for Equality – 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago last week, on a pleasant Wednesday afternoon, Washington, D.C. was buzzing. Throngs of people, numbering well into the hundreds of thousands, were gathered around the Lincoln Memorial, hugging the sides of the famed reflecting pool. The activists were demonstrating for racial equality – not only in the classroom, not only in the workplace, but throughout the entire nation. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was not merely a rally, it was a cultural event that forever changed our history.

Many speakers addressed the crowd that day, but one speech stood out above the rest. One speech has lived on for fifty years and is now considered by Time magazine to be one of the top ten speeches ever given, listed alongside Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech has become the civil rights activist’s most memorable moment, highlighting a lifetime of dedication to racial equality. Dr. King’s legacy of protests through nonviolence and civil disobedience continued after his assassination in 1968, and still lives on to this day.

Newspaper headlines from around the nation report the event.

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All of these articles are available at any time to any patron during Ellis Library’s hours of operation. March into Special Collections and reflect on the way the country has changed, and the ways it hasn’t, in fifty short years.

David Henderson is a student assistant in Special Collections and Rare Books.

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