Educators to rally on 50th anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

50th Anniversary March On Washington

Educators from all over the country are invited to rally in Washington on August 24 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and highlight the work that still needs to be done on social justice. National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel will be among those addressing the rally.

The NEA is partnering with the National Action Network in highlighting the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which King articulated his dream of a better America. National Action Network hopes the event will serve as a catalyst for continued activism in the areas of job creation, workers’ rights, women’s rights, voting rights, gun laws, immigration policy, environmental protection and youth issues.

MTA members are encouraged to attend the event, the National Action to Realize the Dream. Registration for the event and information on buses leaving from Boston to the march on Friday, August 23, can be found online at Participating educators will gather at NEA headquarters to march as a group, just as NEA members did in the original 1963 action and its 30th anniversary in 1993. The NEA is also partnering with Black Youth Vote for a leadership and training conference that will run from August 22 to 24 as part of the National Action to Realize the Dream. NEA will highlight a few of its members who were part of the original march during an educational forum at the Smithsonian Institution.

The march on August 24 starts at 8 a.m., with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, the site of King’s speech. Marchers will then proceed to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. Organizers anticipate that more than 100,000 marchers will attend. MTA members participating in the march can meet fellow educators at 7 a.m. at NEA headquarters, 1201 16th St. NW, where T-shirts and water will be distributed.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who founded the National Action Network, and Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and president of Realizing the Dream, organized the march. They will speak at the rally, along with Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who participated in the original 1963 march, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Van Roekel and other labor and civic leaders.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial during a rally for jobs, justice and civil rights legislation endorsed by President Kennedy. King’s speech built rhetorically on Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” which turned 100 years old in 1963 and became not just an iconic moment for the 20th century, but an inspirational message for those committed to social justice and freedom.

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