TRANSCRIPT: Bernice King's Speech at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
8/28/2013, 4 p.m.
The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., gave the following remarks on Aug. 28 at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:
President Obama, Mrs. Obama, Presidents Carter and Clinton, Congressman Lewis, Ambassador Young, to my brother Martin III, Dexter Scott King, to my entire family, I was 5 months old when my father delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech and I probably was somewhere crawling on the floor or taking a nap after having a meal. But today is a glorious day because on this program today, we have witnessed a manifestation of the beloved community. And we thank everyone for their presence here today.
Today we have been honored to have three presidents of the United States. Fifty years ago, the president did not attend. Today, we are honored to have many women in the planning and mobilization of the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington. Fifty years ago, there was not a single woman on the program. Today, we are honored to have not just one young person, but several young people on the program today. It is certainly a tribute to the work and the legacy of so many people that have gone on before us.
Fifty years ago today in the symbolic shadow of this great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, my father, the great liberator, stood in this very spot and declared to this nation his dream to let freedom ring, for all people who were being manacled by a system of segregation and discrimination. Fifty years ago he commissioned us to go back to our various cities, towns, hamlets, states and villages and let freedom ring.
The reverberation of the sound of that freedom message has amplified and echoed since 1963 through the decades and coast to coast throughout this nation and even around the world. And has summoned us once again back to these hallowed grounds to send out a clariant call to let freedom ring. Since that time as a result of the civil rights agent of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965 and the fair housing act in 1968, we have witnessed great strides toward freedom for all, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, class or sexual orientation.
Fifty years later, in this year of jubilee, we're standing once again in the shadow of that great emancipator, having been summoned to these hallowed grounds to reverberate the message of that great liberator for there's a remnant from 1963, Congressman Lewis, Ambassador Young, that still remains, who has come to bequeath that message of freedom to a new generation of people who must now carry that message in their time, in their communities, amongst their tribes and amongst their nations of the world. We must keep the sound and the message of freedom and justice going. It was my mother, as has been said previously, Coretta Scott King, who, in fact, 30 years ago assembled a coalition of conscience that started us on this whole path of remembering the anniversary of the march on Washington. She reminded us that struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation and so we come once again to let freedom ring because if freedom stops ringing, then the sound will disappear and the atmosphere will be charged with something else.