WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama led civil rights pioneers Wednesday in a ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech roused the 250,000 people who rallied there decades ago for racial equality.
Large crowds gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where the first black U.S. president spoke just after 3 p.m. local time — the same time that King delivered his spellbinding speech.
The first march was early in the turbulent 1960s, when the South still had separate restrooms, schools and careers for blacks and whites, and racism lingered across the country. In the two years following the march, President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act to outlaw discrimination, and King received the Nobel Peace Prize.
“There were couples in love who couldn’t marry. Soldiers who fought for freedom abroad but…
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