EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSD.C. Events Kick Off 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights March On Washington
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Heath Harrison
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Also Contributing: Associated Press
Reported: Aug. 24, 2013 4:49 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 24, 2013 7:34 PM EDT
The National Mall filled with tens of thousands to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights March on Washington.
Saturday kicked off the first of two rallies celebrating the anniversary of Aug 28, 1963, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Civil rights leaders and political heavyweights addressed the crowds to mark the anniversary before a march past the King Memorial.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson raised several current issues civil rights groups are concerned with.
"So keep dreaming of the constitutional right to vote. Stop the madness in North Carolina and Texas. Keep dreaming,” Jackson said. “Keep dreaming. Revive the war on poverty. Keep dreaming to go from stop and frisk to stop and employ, stop and educate, stop and house, stop and choose schools over jails. Keep dreaming. Keep dreaming - student loans, debt forgiveness as a stimulus. Keep dreaming."
Martin Luther King III said the day was "not the time for nostalgic commemoration" or "self-congratulatory celebration."
The oldest son of the slain civil rights leader told the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington that "The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, railed against a recent Supreme Court decision that effectively erased a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act.
Lewis was a leader of a 1965 march where police beat and gassed marchers who demanded access to voting booths. He says he "gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Ala., for the right to vote."
Attorney General Eric Holder praised those who faced repression and brutality to march a half century ago. The nation's first black attorney general said that without them, he'd never be the attorney general and Barack Obama wouldn't be president.
President Obama plans to speak at separate rally on Wednesday, the actual anniversary of the 1963 march.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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