By Jesse Franz
Wednesday marked the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The 1963 March on Washington attracted more than 250,000 people to the National Mall to protest segregation, the lack of jobs, and the disenfranchisement of African-Americans, and other social issues. More than 25 people spoke. However, the last speaker, King, civil rights leader and and Baptist preacher, dealt the lasting impression of the protest with his now timeless “I Have a Dream” speech.
“His words belong to the ages,” President Barack Obama said during Wednesday’s Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action. ”But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books.”
Undoubtedly one of the most prolific speeches in American history, King’s words still influence members of the Fresno State community.
“I think it’s resonated so much with Americans, about judging people by the content of their character, primarily because he’s speaking to the ideals that this country reveres,” said Dr. DeAnna Reese, a history professor.
“He’s basically reminding Americans, and I think that the speech is so important because it really is a moment in our history that this speech helps to raise the consciousness of a generation of American’s again. It was said in such a way that really tapped into what really binds us all together as human beings.”
When listening to the 50-year-old speech, Reese hopes students “take away the sentiment that we are still a nation that has so much more to do with eradicating poverty, racism and war.”
“There’s still a long way to go,” Reese said.
“I urge everyone on campus to take a moment today to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech,” Fresno State President Joseph Castro said in a statement.
“Fifty years later, the words of Dr. King’s message are a captivating reminder of what we all can accomplish together by embracing our diversity and working hand-in-hand to make our campus, our community, our nation and the world a better place. Opportunity abounds at Fresno State for students of all backgrounds, and I’m inspired every day by the diversity of people and ideas flowing through our campus.”