Martin Luther King Jr addresses the crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington in 1963. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
24 August 2013
Up to 100,000 people are expected in Washington DC today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and to protest for further action on jobs, voting rights and gun violence.
Demonstrators will march from the National Mall’s Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, passing by the Martin Luther King Memorial in a symbolic event evoking the massive crowds that gathered on the mall to listen to King and others speak on 28 August 1963.
King was among six organizers of the 1963 march, which was part of the US civil rights movement. Congressman John Lewis, who spoke at the event almost 50 years ago, will be among the marchers and will speak to the crowd.
More than 40 groups are participating the march, including Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Service Employees International Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the American Federation of Teachers.
As well as commemorating King’s famous speech, the march aims to call attention to issues affecting America today, including unemployment, voting rights, gun violence, women’s rights and immigration reform.
Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who died after being shot by George Zimmerman last year, will also be remembered as organisers call for stand-your-ground laws to be repealed and draw attention to racial profiling.
Martin Luther King led 250,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963 and delivered his “I have a dream” speech from its steps.
The event helped spur passage of the Civil Rights Act, in 1964, and Voting Rights Act in 1965. King won the Nobel peace prize in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4 1968 at age 39.