Wednesday, August 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The March is still numbered among one of the largest political rallies in United States history. The rally included approximately 250,000 people from across the country. The iconic view of the rally is the large crowd that lined both sides of the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.
The March included speeches and songs to inspire the crowd. But the day is best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. This is especially true of the end of the 17-minute speech, when he cast aside his script and led into the words; “I have a dream”. It not only caused great reaction across the Mall that day, the speech was deemed the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars.
If you want to read the text of this speech, or other landmark speeches given by Dr. King, you can find them in “A Call to Conscience”. This book is a collection of several of his well-known speeches, including “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” given the evening before his assassination.
Charles Euchner’s “Nobody Turn Me Around” is an hour-by-hour account of the March. The author takes you behind the scenes where you’ll meet the people involved. Any large gathering with differing opinions will have tension, and there was plenty here. Despite it all, the day was a success. It is known for spurring the country to action, and led to the passage of civil rights laws.
“The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” was posthumously compiled from his writings. The book was commissioned by the King family, and gives the background to the leader's motivation and thoughts throughout his tumultuous and world-changing life.
It is good for us to learn about our country’s past, including this day, the most significant demonstration for freedom in the history of the United States.