50th Anniversary of the March on Washington - August 2013

••• March on Washington. Photo © Library of Congress

August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the inspirational I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifty years ago, more than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington DC for a political rally which became a key moment in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Dr. King inspired millions across the world with the delivery of his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Following is a guide to events, exhibits and attractions that commemorated the March on Washington and this pivotal time in our nation’s history.

Rallies and Special Events

Concert: Reflections on Peace from Gandhi to King
August 10, 2013, 8-10 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at a free multi-cultural concert experience of sacred classical music, traditional Sri-Lankan and Indian sacred songs, traditional hymns, and African-American gospel songs.

50th Anniversary March on Washington
August 21-28, 2013. A full week of events will be hosted by the King children, the remaining four of the original six organizing organizations and the last living organizer, Congressman John Lewis as well as other organizations like National Action Network.

The main event will include a commemorative march and rally along the historic 1963 route on Saturday August 24. The Marching route begins at the Lincoln Memorial, proceeds south to travel along Independence Avenue, with a stop at the Martin Luther King Memorial and then proceeding on to the Washington Monument. The rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Among the speakers and groups are Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; Congressman John Lewis; Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader; Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer; Randi Weingarten- President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Lee Saunders- President, AFSCME; Janet Murguia- President, The National Council of LaRAZA; Mary Kay Henry- International President, Service Employers International Union (SEIU); Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association (NEA); and many others.

Participants are encouraged to take public transportation to the march and rally. The closest Metro Stations are Foggy Bottom, Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed to vehicles most of the day on August 24th.

Global Freedom Festival
August 23-27, 2013. National Mall, Hours are Friday, 12-7 p.m., Saturday, 3-7 p.m. (following the March), Sunday 12-7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The event will include four days of education, entertainment and activities that focus on advancing freedom throughout the world.

“Covering Civil Rights: On the Front Lines”
August 22, 2013, 7 p.m. Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC. The Newseum, in partnership with the National Council of Negro Women, will host a free evening program that will include a special appearance by Elder Bernice King, chief executive officer of The King Center and daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Rev. King will receive the NCNW’s 2013 Leadership Award. Moderated by Sirius XM radio host, Joe Madison, the event will also feature a discussion with journalist and author of “Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement,” Simeon Booker, who was on the front lines of covering the civil rights story.

The program is free and open to the public, but seats are limited and must be reserved at CoveringCivilRights.eventbrite.com.

DC Statehood Rally
August 24, 2013, 9 a.m. DC War Memorial, Independence Avenue, NW. Washington DC. “Remembering the Legacy. Where Do We Go From Here?” Rally participants will attend a short program before marching as a group to the Lincoln Memorial for the national program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

“I Have a Dream” Gospel Brunch - Willard InterContinental Hotel
August 25, 2013, 11:30 a.m. Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC.

The Gospel Brunch features famed opera singer Denyce Graves. Included is a sparkling wine reception, elaborate Southern-style brunch buffet by Executive Chef Luc Dendievel and a commemorative Martin Luther King keepsake. The program includes a dramatic reading from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and stirring rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – penned by poet Julia Ward Howe at the Willard Hotel. Cost for the brunch is $132 per person, including tax and gratuity. For reservations, call (202) 637-7350 or visit washington.intercontinental.com.

50th Anniversary March on Washington Conference on Civil Rights
August 27, 2013. Howard University, Washington DC. The event will include panel discussions, speakers, and open discussion groups. Registration is required.

Panel Discussion with the Historical Society of Washington
August 27, 2013, 7 p.m. Carnegie Library, Washington DC. Participate in an engaging panel discussion that will explore the local and national impact of the March on Washington in the context of the photographers who documented the historic march and the way that newspapers covered the event.

A freshman at American University in 1963, Eric Kulberg captured the march's leaders, participants, media coverage, and the overall impact on the city and its residents. A selection of his photographs will be on display in the Kiplinger Research Library. Panelists include Photographer Eric Kulberg, Community Archivist Derek Gray, and Kiplinger Research Library Director Krissah. RSVP Required.

March for Jobs and Justice
August 28, 2013. The march will begin at 9:30 a.m. Participants will assemble at 600 New Jersey Avenue, Washington DC at 8 a.m. and proceed to the United States Department of Labor at 200 Constitution Avenue, then to the United States Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue and ending at a rally on the National Mall.

Following the march at 11 a.m. President Barack Obama will speak to the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Interfaith Service
August 28, 2013, 9-10:30 a.m. Martin Luther King Memorial, West Basin Drive SW at Independence Avenue SW. Washington DC. An interfaith service will be held at the Memorial in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

“Let Freedom Ring” Commemorative Closing Ceremony
August 28, 2013, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Lincoln Memorial - 23rd St. NW, Washington, DC.

The event will feature remarks by President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and President Jimmy Carter. At 3 p.m., an international bell-ringing event designed to inspire unity, will take place. This event is open to the public. Guests arriving after 12:00 p.m. are not guaranteed admittance.

Museum Exhibits

“Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and The March on Washington, 1963” - National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington DC. The exhibition at the Smithsonian examines these two pivotal events and their larger relevance for all Americans today. The exhibition features historic and modern photographs and items ranging from Harriet Tubman’s shawl to a portable version of the Emancipation Proclamation—one created for Union soldiers to read to and distribute among African Americans.

The exhibition will be on view through Sept. 15, 2013.

"Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement" - Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Washington, DC. The exhibit explores the new generation of student leaders in the early 1960s who fought segregation by making their voices heard and exercising their First Amendment rights. It will spotlight key figures in the student civil rights movement, including John Lewis, now a U.S. representative from Georgia, and Julian Bond, who later became chairman of the NAACP.

The exhibit opens on August 2, 2013 and will be a permanent display. The Newseum will also launch a three-year changing exhibit, "Civil Rights at 50" which will be updated each year to chronicle milestones in the civil rights movement from 1963, 1964 and 1965 through historic front pages, magazines and news images. "Civil Rights at 50" will be on display through 2015.

"A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington" - The Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St.

SE, Washington, DC. The exhibition will consist of 40 black-and-white images from newspaper and other media photographers, independent photojournalists and people who participated in the march—represent the cross-section of individuals who were there. Part of the collections in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, the images convey the immediacy of being at the march and the palpable excitement of those who were there. The exhibition will allow visitors to rediscover the context and ongoing legacy of this important event in the country’s history.

The exhibit will be on display from August 28, 2013 through March 1, 2014.

“American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s - National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave NW Washington, DC. The exhibition explores the issues that were at the forefront of Ringgold’s experience of racial inequality in the United States during the 1960s. Ringgold created bold, provocative paintings in direct response to the Civil Rights and feminist movements. The exhibition includes 45 works from the landmark series “American People” (1963–67) and “Black Light” (1967–71), along with related murals and political posters.

The exhibition will be on view June 21–Nov. 10, 2013.

“One Life: Martin Luther King Jr.” - National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW., Washington, DC. The exhibition will mark the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech through a display of historic photographs, prints, paintings and memorabilia. It will trace the trajectory of King’s career from his rise to prominence as the leader of the national civil rights movement to his work as an anti-war activist and advocate for those living in poverty.

The exhibit runs from June 28-June 1, 2014.

Related Attractions

Lincoln Memorial - 23rd St. NW, Washington, DC. The iconic landmark and memorial to President Abraham Lincoln was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and continues to serve as a prime destination for civil rights related events. The memorial is open 24 hours a day and is an ideal place to reflect upon American values. A "Let Freedom Ring” Commemoration & Call to action will be held on August 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial.

Martin Luther King Memorial - West Basin Drive SW and Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC.

The memorial honors Dr. King’s vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice. National Park Service rangers give regularly scheduled talks on the life and contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. An interfaith service will be held at the Memorial on August 28, 2013, from 9-10:30 a.m.

See also, 10 Things to Know About the Mall in Washington DC

Washington, DC Hotels

The last week of August will be very busy in Washington, DC. Book your hotel early to confirm a reservation. Here are some resources to help you find a room to suite your needs.