On anniversary of King's 'Dream' speech, bells to ring for freedom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An address by President Barack Obama and nationwide bell-ringing will cap celebrations on Wednesday marking the 50th anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King's landmark "I have a dream" speech.
Obama will speak during the "Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action" commemoration on the steps of Washington's Lincoln Memorial, the site of King's address on August 28, 1963, the White House said.
Other speakers include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The ceremony will follow an interfaith service at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, organizers said.
The speech by Obama, the first black U.S. president, will come as almost half of Americans say much more needs to be done before the color-blind society that King envisioned is realized.
Obama said last week that the legacy of discrimination had left a persistent economic gap between blacks and whites, but that the civil rights movement's impulse for equality had spread to Hispanics, immigrants, gays and others.
"What's wonderful to watch is that ... each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate," he told a Binghamton University audience in Vestal, New York. "That's a great victory that we should all be very proud of."
The Lincoln Memorial ceremony will include bell-ringing at 3 p.m. EDT, 50 years to the minute after King ended his call for racial and economic justice with the words "let freedom ring."
About 50 communities or organizations around the United States have said they will ring bells. The Swiss city of Lutry and Tokyo are also taking part, said Atlanta's King Center, one of the event's organizers.
Other organizers include the National Action Network of civil rights leader and talk show host Al Sharpton, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Council of Churches. Continued...