Saturday was a day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington, and a vision one man delivered so forcefully that five decades later, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech ranks with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress as among the most memorable in U.S. history.
“Daddy is smiling up above, knowing that by your presence, you will keep his dream alive,” Martin Luther King III said from the top step of the Lincoln Memorial, where his father’s memorable speech capped the 1963 march. “I stand here today in this sacred place, in my father’s footsteps. I, like you, continue to feel his presence. This is not the time for self-congratulations. We can and must do more.”
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the few major speakers from the 1963 rally still alive, challenged listeners to push back against this year’s Supreme Court decision that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court’s 5 to 4 vote freed nine states, most of them in the South, from a requirement that they seek federal approval to change their election laws.