The first black US President will today speak to commemorate the moment civil rights leader Martin Luther King ended his landmark “I have a dream” speech 50 years ago.
Bringing to a close a seven day celebration of King’s historic call for racial and economic justice, President Barack Obama will speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the site of King’s address on 28 August, 1963.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton also will address the crowd at the ceremony, which includes bell-ringing at 3 pm EDT (1900 GMT), 50 years to the minute after King ended his clarion call of the civil rights movement with the words “let freedom ring.”
The “Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action” ceremony comes as almost half of Americans say much more needs to be done before the color-blind society King envisioned is realized.
King, a black clergyman and advocate of non-violence, was one of six organisers of the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” where he made his address. He was assassinated by a white prison escapee in 1968.
About 50 US communities or organisations 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.