Thousands gathered on the Mall to attend a rally and participate in a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The rally included speeches from Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others. It was followed by a march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.
Here are the live updates and dispatches we posted on Saturday. You can also find the conversation on social media here.
The rally and march on the Mall have concluded, so we're wrapping up our live coverage for the day. Head here to read more about the March on Washington and the anniversary events.
A gallery of photos taken on the Mall:
Crowds made their way to the memorial honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:
Near the reflecting pool, Balinda Stevenson Cunningham, 62, of Southwest Washington, pushed her way through the crowd carrying an old sketch of ancestors.
The sketch contained an image of Cunningham’s grandmother — when the grandmother was a 3-year-old child — standing on a share-cropping plantation in North Carolina. In the sketch stood, Cunningham’s great grandmother and grandfather, who she said died on the Titanic. The white woman in the sketch, she said, was the plantation’s mistress.
Cunningham raised the sketch in its golden frame and pointed it toward the Lincoln Memorial. “I brought it today,” said Cunningham who wore Kente cloth and a large gold key around her neck, “because I believe in ancestors who I leaned on for strength. I do this so the ancestors could be here. This is ground we are standing on is hallowed ground.”
— DeNeen Brown
One of the last speeches at the rally was given by Martin Luther King III, who urged the crowd not to become complacent. He told them to fight to restore voting rights as well as push for economic justice and more jobs. He said, “The dream is far from being realized.”
In his speech, King's voice echoing the soaring tones of his father:
"Five decades ago, my father Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stood upon this hallowed spot. And the spirit of God spoke through him and summoned a nation to repent and to redress the shameful sins long visited upon its African American brothers and sisters...Fifty years ago, he delivered a sermon on this mountain, which crystallized like never before the painful pilgrimage and aching aspirations of African Americans yearning to breathe free in our own homeland. But Martin Luther King Jr.’s utterings of 1963 were neither forlorn laments of past injustices nor a despairing diatribe of cruel conditions of the day. No, indeed, his words are etched in eternity and echo through the ages to us today were a tribute to the tenacity of an intrepid people who, though oppressed, refused to remain in bondage. Those words of Martin Luther King Jr. were a clarion call to all people of goodwill to rise up together to make this nation live out the true meaning of its creed and to perfect within us a more perfect union.”
King said he was humbled to stand in his father’s footsteps but urged the crowd to do more than celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
“I, like you, continue to feel his presence. I, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness,” King said. “The admonition is clear this is not the time for nostalgic commemoration. Nor is this the time for self- congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.”
— DeNeen Brown
As Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other leaders of the march disbanded near 15th Street and Jefferson Drive, the civil rights icon reflected on the day's events.
"It is good to see so many people so many years later," Lewis said. "So many people are hopeful, optimistic and I am gratified. We are going to make it."
The pursuit of civil rights had been a family affair growing in Chicago up for June Carter Perry. She remembers her mother in 1955 insisting on taking her to pay respects before Emmett Till's open casket in Chicago. As a sophomore at Loyal University, she was selected by her local NAACP chapter to accompany officials to the 1963 March on Washington.
"I was so excited to hear Dr. King speak in person," said Perry, 69. On Saturday, she participated in the anniversary of the March by rallying for D.C. statehood. "His speech was a promissory note and we're still here today because that note hasn't been filled."
A former Ambassador, Perry served as a career diplomat with the State Department before her retirement in 2010.
"I'm here for future generations," Perry said. "Not just for African American youth but for all whose civil rights have not been filled. We have to make sure that note is filled for them in a peaceful way."
Some roads will be reopened soon around the National Mall, according to the District Department of Transportation. Multiple streets were closed around the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall for today's events. In addition, the Lincoln Memorial is open to the public again.
Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, was among the last to speak from the Lincoln Memorial. Leading the crowd in prayer, she asked people to hold hands with those standing nearby. She urged those gathered to create a “freedom force” that would press for what her father described as a “beloved community.”
Afterwards, as the march began, strangers who had been grasping hands turned and hugged one another, wiped tears from their eyes, and then said goodbye and went their separate ways.
Most marchers snaked around the reflecting pool and toward the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., but many peeled off from the crowd. Hundreds took the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, taking in the view of the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument beyond.
Larry Johnson and his family, including 9-year-old triplets, rested on the marble steps of the Federal Reserve along Constitution Avenue. Johnson, who teaches criminal justice at Empire State College in New York, said that he was heartened by the turnout Saturday.
While the most pressing issues aren’t the same as they were in 1963, he said, they’re just as urgent. “Fifty years later, it’s not sitting in the back of the bus, it’s now justice in the courtroom and injustice in the streets,” he said.
Todd Endo, whose Japanese forebears immigrated to America in the 1890s, spent the first three years of his life inside a World War II internment camp in rural Rohwer, Ark.
"As Japanese Americans, our civil rights were violated during World War II," Endo said.
After graduating from Oberlin College as a History major, he joined members of the Japanese American Citizens League for the 1963 March on Washington. At 21, he was the youngest of the 35 in the group.
"It was packed, people were dangling their feet in the reflecting pool," said Endo, 71, of Amissville, Va. "But there was camaraderie and friendliness. Everybody said hello to each other."
Endo returned to the Mall Saturday to carry again a half-century later the banner of the Japanese American Citizen's League. He's the last surviving member of the original 35.
The 1963 March changed the course of his life, he said. "The March told me that I'm more of an activist than academic," Endo said. He abandoned his study of History and decided to forge a career in education, where he helped integrate schools in Prince George's County and worked with high school drop outs.
"Fifty years later there's still that dream that's not realized," Endo said. "You never get there. . . [But] that sense of unity and working together and peacefulness has carried on and remains influential"
As crowds made their way to the Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, many went to the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Tidal Basin:
As marchers continue making their way to the Washington Monument, it's a good time to look back at the original march five decades ago. Did you or someone you know attend the 1963 march?
If you're following along with our coverage of today's events and you have a memory to share, please head here.