Oprah Winfrey delivered the following remarks at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial.
Hello everybody. I am absolutely thrilled to be here. I remember when I was 9 years old and the march was occurring and I asked my mama, can I go to the march? It took me 50 years, but I’m here.
On this date, in this place, at this time, 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream for America with America. Took me 50 years, but I’m here.
On this date, in this place, at this time, 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream for America with America. Dr. King was the passionate voice that awakened the conscience of a nation and inspired people all over the world. The power of his words resonated because they were spoken out of an unwavering belief in freedom and justice, equality and opportunity for all. “Let Freedom Ring” was Dr. King’s closing call for a better and more just America.
So today, people from all walks of life will gather at 3 p.m. for bell-ringing events across our great country and around the world as we reaffirm our commitment to Dr. King’s ideals. Dr. King believed that our destinies are all intertwined, and he knew that our hopes and our dreams are really all the same. He challenged us to see how we all are more alike than we are different.
So as the bells of freedom ring today, we’re hoping that it’s a time for all of us to reflect on not only the progress that has been made — and we’ve made a lot — but on what we have accomplished and also on the work that still remains before us. It’s an opportunity today to recall where we once were in this nation and to think about that young man, who, at 34 years old, stood up here and was able to force an entire country to wake up, to look at itself and to eventually change.
And as we, the people, continue to honor the dream of a man and a movement, a man who in his short life saw suffering and injustice and refused to look the other way, we can be inspired and we, too, can be courageous by continuing to walk in the footsteps in the path that he forged. He is the one who reminded us that we will never walk alone. He was, after all, a drum major for justice.
So as the bells toll today, let us reflect on the bravery, let us reflect on the sacrifice of those who stood up for freedom, who stood up for us, whose shoulders we now stand on. And as the bells toll today at 3:00, let us ask ourselves: How will the dream live in me, in you, in all of us? As the bells toll, let us remind ourselves: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As the bells toll, we commit to a life of service because Dr. King, one of my favorite quotes from him is, “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.”
So we ask ourselves, what are we doing for others to lift others up? And as the bells toll, we must recommit to let the love that abides and connects each of us to shine through and let freedom ring.
Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.