Bells Punctuate March On Washington Anniversary

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Melissa Block and Robert Siegel have more on the various events to mark the anniversary.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Fifty years ago today, a march that helped define a movement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: 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.

SIEGEL: That, of course, was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

BLOCK: Under cloudy skies and in rain, thousands gathered today on the National Mall to commemorate the peaceful protest. Across the country, at 3:00 Eastern Time, bells rang out in honor of the great refrain from King's "I Have A Dream Speech," let freedom ring.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

BLOCK: Those bells from Grace Presbyterian Church in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

SIEGEL: Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

BLOCK: And a bell rang from the Lincoln Memorial itself. It's the same bell that hung in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, before the church was bombed in 1963.

SIEGEL: Participants in today's event expressed both joy for the progress made since the march but also frustration with the long path ahead. Here's a small sample of voices from those who attended today's gathering.

MARY JOHNSON: Martin Luther King gave this great speech about I have a dream, but it really wasn't about his dream. It was about what was owed, what was promised way back that he was talking about. And so, those promises have not been delivered on. And so, this is what needs to be brought to the forefront.

ANNE KRUGER: I don't think there's a simple answer to point a finger at this, that or the other. But we certainly haven't solved the race problem and we haven't the honest discussion. And we haven't solved the class problems.

BRIAN KILDEE: There's more to do. It's more than just a memorial of something that was successful 50 years ago. It's a call to straighten out what this country needs to straighten out.

SIEGEL: That's Brian Kildee of Maryland, Anne Kruger of Virginia, and Mary Johnson of Washington, D.C.

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