Loading
Crowds in DC urged to continue work of Martin Luther King
President Barack Obama speaks during the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington. Credit: C-SPAN.
President Barack Obama speaks during the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington. Credit: C-SPAN.
By Adelaide Mena
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Thousands of people gathered in downtown Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s now-famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”

King’s words remain with us today, said U.S. President Barack Obama, because they “belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.”

The hours-long event, entitled “Let Freedom Ring,” celebrated half a century since the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on Aug. 28, 1963. The march was a pivotal point in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and was the backdrop for King’s speech.

“America changed for you and for me,” because of that march, Obama said, pointing to sweeping changes in the treatment of minorities in the United States over the past five decades. 

He highlighted the work of both famous civil rights leaders and “those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books” but who responded to segregation and discrimination with peaceful action.

“In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence,” the president said.

“Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us.”

Obama warned, however, that “we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete.” He pointed to the economic difficulties that have plagued many Americans in recent years, along with other indications of social injustice, including higher unemployment levels within minority communities, inequality and lack of social mobility for lower classes, poorly performing schools, insufficient health care and violence.

The “good news,” he said, is that “just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice.”

As a nation, “we are not trapped by the mistakes of history,” but can bring about the type of transformative change in the name of justice that “does not come from Washington but to Washington.”

This change, the president said, “has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the mantle of citizenship.”

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington also spoke to commemorate the anniversary of the civil rights march, addressing participants at an interfaith prayer gathering. 

In addition, the cardinal penned an article in Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, recognizing the historic anniversary and calling upon the faithful to honor the legacy of civil rights leaders “by continuing their work.”

He noted that Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle, previous archbishop of Washington, had offered the invocation at the March on Washington in 1963, and led Catholics from across the diocese in the march.

Cardinal Wuerl highlighted several areas in which Catholics today can continue the “legacy reflective of the commitment of King.”

Within the Church, he said that he has “witnessed King's vision of Americans praying and marching together for justice.”

“Each year at the March, Rallies and Masses for Life, hundreds of thousands of people from across the country gather to pray and then march together in defense of the dignity of human life in all its stages,” he explained. 

The effort to realize justice in the United States “also takes the form of providing educational opportunities for all children, but particularly for those who would otherwise be consigned to schools too often designated as ‘failing,’” the cardinal said.

Additionally, the drive to spread the Gospel “is why Catholic Charities programs and Catholic hospitals continue to bring Christ's love and hope to those who need it regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality or sexual orientation,” he said, adding that this also explains “why we must continue to stand for the dignity of human life, for religious freedom and for justice for immigrants.”

People of faith “can never be relegated to just an hour inside church on Sunday,” Cardinal Wuerl stressed, urging Catholics “to ‘go out’ and bring Christ's love and hope to our communities and our world.”

Tags: Martin Luther King, Justice, Civil Rights Movement

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
Dec
18

Liturgical Calendar

December 18, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Gospel
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 23: 5-8
Gospel:: Mt 1: 18-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
12/15/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Homily
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14