I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the nation....
That was how Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech in 1963 began. He was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial speaking to over 250,000 civil rights supporters, and the nation, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society.... So we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition." You can read the full text in the government archives.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of this iconic moment in the struggle for equal rights and opportunity.
In July 1964, almost one year after this speech, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. A few years later, MLK Jr., arguably one of the greatest Americans to live, was shot on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Alabama.