Twin Cities celebrates 50th anniversary of March on Washington - KMSP-TV

Twin Cities celebrates 50th anniversary of March on Washington

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Leah Beno | FOX 9 News Leah Beno | FOX 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Across the metro, people took time to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and ponder the moving words he uttered 50 years ago today.

MARCH TO MINNESOTA CAPITOL

Civic leaders and community groups led a march to the State Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington.

The march started at 11 a.m. in Boyd Park at Selby and Farrington, with a commemorative program beginning at noon from the Capitol.

Rep. Keith Ellison was among those honoring the words King spoke, but he was quick to point out that there is still a lot of work to do retarding race relations in the United States. Even so, he insists progress has been made.

"It's not just people of color who benefited from getting rid of segregation," Ellison explained. "The civil rights moment helped bring a flowering of and a resurgence of the women's rights movement, a movement for people with disabilities, immigration, senior citizens."

DIALOGUE AT HUBERT HUMPHREY SCHOOL

While reflecting on the progress of the past 50 years is important, community leaders and activists also came together on Wednesday night to hash out current challenges that are still standing in the way of realizing King's dream.

There was standing-room only as more than 300 people turned out to take part in the commemorative discussion, including some who marched on Washington in 1963.

"We have civil rights heroes of the 50s and 60s joined by activists working in the trenches today to get the historical perspective to inform the efforts that are underway," Eric Schwartz told FOX 9 News.

Dr. Josie Johnson was one marcher who joined the panel that included Rep. Frank Horstein and Rev. Rolland Robinson.

"It has become an ongoing, constant struggle to try to understand what democracy is and what is meant by 'justice,'" Johnson said. "African American children -- and many other minority, Latino, American Indian youngsters -- are not doing well. In fact, they're doing less well or about as well as we were in '63 and times have changed."

The group did not shy away from the debate about how to fix the social justice issues that remain. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak openly discussed what he calls a "gaping weakness" in equality of achievement, unemployment and wealth in Minneapolis via a blog post, describing it as "shameful." 

"This community has some of the largest, if not the largest, gaps on income, education and health and it breaks along racial lines," Rybak told FOX 9 News. "It's simply not acceptable. We've done a lot; we have to do more."

BELLS RINGING

To mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, the University of Minnesota rang bells over its emergency broadcast system into every building on campus at 2 p.m.

The Minnesota African American Museum in south Minneapolis also "Let Freedom Ring" with its own bell ringing ceremony, but the museum has canceled a Dream Day program planned for Wednesday afternoon due to 90-degree heat in the Twin Cities.

PRESIDENT OBAMA

The president was joined by a host of civil rights leaders, as well as past presidents and members of the King family at the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony. Obama spoke about the historic oration roughly 50 years to the minute after King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

TRANSCRIPT

Take a moment to read Dr. King's words with this transcript of the historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation." READ THE FULL SPEECH

1963 VIDEO

The National Archives Film Preservation Lab completed a full digital restoration of the James Blue's 1964 film, The March, produced for the U.S. Information Agency. Using Blue's original negatives, staff restored defects in the image and enhanced the audio track - a process that took more than three months. The March documents the event from its preparations through Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Watch the video at http://youtu.be/claihYpVYjg (40 minutes)

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