An Event Inspires a Nation
On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered what would become one of the most influential speeches in history, proclaiming to the world, "I have a dream."
Dr. King challenged America to imagine a day when "all of God's children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'" The March on Washington, electrified by Dr. King’s speech, helped bring an end to Jim Crow laws, pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and open the modern civil rights era.
As ADL marks the anniversary of the March on Washington, which we vigorously supported, and reflects on Dr. King’s powerful words, we are reminded of how far our country has come and how much work we still have to do.
In 1963, Dr. King proclaimed that we would not "be satisfied so long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote." Today we have seen the first African-American president and more than 9,000 African-American elected officials, yet voter ID and other racially discriminatory voting laws threaten to disenfranchise eligible minority voters.
In 1963 Dr. King decried that some minorities could not "gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities." Today, we have ended segregation, but immigrants now struggle for access to public benefits and inclusion in the American Dream.
Dr. King yearned for a day when people "would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We have made huge strides toward equality for all, yet bullying and cyberbullying still scar children targeted for the way they look.
Decades after the March on Washington, Dr. King’s dream lives on.