50 years since March on Washington

2013-08-24 19:24
Crowds rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. (Jose Luis Magana, AP)

Crowds rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. (Jose Luis Magana, AP)

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Washington - Tens of thousands gathered on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the civil rights watershed where Martin Luther King Jr famously declared: "I have a dream".

Under a cloudless blue sky,the predominantly African-American crowd swelled around the Reflecting Pool for a parade of speakers and entertainers who took their turn at the lectern on the white marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

"It's a full house," one organizer declared an hour before the official programme - featuring King's son Martin Luther King III - got underway and as thousands more people converged on the National Mall with the Capitol in the distance.

The rally, which organizers hoped would draw as many as 150 000 people, is among the biggest events to mark next Wednesday's anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where an estimated 250 000 people demanded greater civil rights.

Barack Obama, the nation's first African American president, is to stand on the same spot on the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday to address a second major commemoration event.

The March on Washington was a landmark in the struggle to end racial segregation, but Saturday's rally underscored a long list of contemporary concerns, from voting rights, urban violence and the status of illegal immigrants to women's rights, unemployment and income inequality.

Read more on:    martin luther king  |  us

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