Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’

America is in a strange place racially. On one hand, African-Americans celebrate their first black President.  On the other, they mourn the loss of a black teenager who was followed and shot to death while walking through a predominately white neighbourhood – many believing things would be different if not for the colour of his skin. So, what a poignant time to celebrate when thousands stood in the heat of the civil rights movement to watch Martin Luther King recite his acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech.

It’s been 50 years since that day. To kick off a week of events commemorating King’s speech, this weekend tens of thousands of people revisited the very place history was made and reflected on a moment that inspired a nation and opened the minds of many.

Latter day civil rights leader and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton co-organized the march along with Martin Luther King III. Sharpton reflected on King’s speech and told participants to march for jobs and economic opportunity. After all, the original march was called The March on Washington of  Jobs and Freedom.

Sharpton also addressed the topic of gun violence. He said, “We gotta fight against this recklessness that makes us so insensitive that we shoot each other for no reason.”

King III also touched on gun violence, specifically the Trayvon Martin case, saying, “My father dreamed of a country where his children will not be judged by the color of their skin or the content of their character.” He added, “but Trayvon Martin shows that we are still profiled.”

Wednesday, though Obama does not often talk publicly about race – only touching on it before his election in 2008, when professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested and after Trayvon Martin was killed –  he will reflect on the civil rights movement, the famous speech and how he feels of the progress that has been made in the last 50 years. This will be especially significant given Obama is seen as the ultimate figure of racial progress in America.

Watch the clip above for the speech. The I Have a Dream section begins at 12:10.