Martin Luther King

‘Selma Is Now': John Legend’s Momentous Oscar Speech

glory

Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Think Progress

John Legend and Common won the Academy Award for best original song for “Glory” from the movie Selma, which chronicled Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for the Voting Rights Act.

Legend took the opportunity to remind the audiece that the struggle continues. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today,” Legend said. “Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now.”

(Video is no longer available:  “This video contains content from AMPAS Oscars, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.“)

Selma depicts events that took place 50 years ago. But in just the last two years there has been a stunning assault on voting rights in the United States:

[T]he very rights championed by King have been eroded since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 which effectively struck down the heart of Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

The high court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder opened the doors for nine Southern states to change their election laws without federal approval. In the year and a half since the decision, courts have heard a number of cases about the constitutionality of newly passed voter ID legislation and other methods of voter suppression, while voters across the country have faced increased barriers to casting their ballots.

Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down the provisions against restrictive voting legislation by ruling that Section 5 of the VRA no longer blocks discriminatory voting changes, states across the country moved forward with laws that were previously blocked. In the first year after the decision, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia all made previously forbidden changes to their voting laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

More on Selma’s missing epilogue.

Sarah Palin Poses With ‘Fuc_ You Michael Moore’ Crosshairs Sign At Gunshow

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Liberals Unite

Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper is stirring passions and debate on both sides of the aisle. Not one to shy away from interjecting herself into controversial topics, half-term Governor Sarah Palin propelled herself right in the middle of it today.

While attending the SHOT firearm trade show on Friday Palin posed with two men and held a sign that read “Fuc_ You Michael Moore.” If you’re not able to make out what else is contained, there are two crosshairs in the “O’s.”

Filmmaker Michael Moore ignited controversy with a series of tweets sent last weekend which some considered to be about the film and its subject, sniper Chris Kyle. Moore referred to snipers as “cowards” and relayed that’s how his uncle lost his life while serving in World War II. Never mentioning the film-or Kyle-by name, the tweets kicked up an amazing dust storm on the right. Moore attempted to clarify, claiming he was thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr.-whose birthday was about to be marked, and whose life was ended at the hands of a sniper.

As you may have guessed, that didn’t temper the hate, as we can see in the sign held by the failed vice presidential candidate.

This isn’t the first time Palin has used murderous imagery to target people. SarahPac released an image featuring crosshairs on a map of legislators who voted for the Affordable Care Act that she was “targeting.” One of those targets was then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head a few months later at an event in Tucson.

Apparently Palin hasn’t learned her lesson, and continues to revel in violent imagery and language hurled against those she disagrees with politically.

Posing with a sign featuring crosshairs, at a gun show no less, makes you no better than those who celebrated the deaths of the twelve individuals at Charlie Hebdo, Governor Palin.

Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. |  Express Newspapers/Getty

I had actually forgotten about this for a while. I first learned of it in a Black Studies class in College then on  a television documentary…

The Daily Beast ~ Nick Gillespie

A reminder that Washington has been toying with and lying to Americans for a long, long time.

The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI’s so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today’s America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business. Historian Beverly Gage and The New York Times have just published an unredacted version of the anonymous November, 1964 letter almost certainly sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks before the civil rights leader was set to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The typo-laden note pretends to be from a black American repulsed by King’s “psychotic” sexuality and warns that he will be unmasked as a “filthy, abnormal animal” unless he kills himself. “King you are done,” reads the letter, drawing on surveillance and wiretaps approved by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. “There is but one way out for you,” the note continues. “You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

In the 21st century, we worry less about the government ratting out our sex lives and more about it tapping our phones, reading our emails, secretly dispatching drones abroad, sending “desperate and dumb” mash notes to Iranian fascists, and generally lying about its true goals and actions. “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles” announced theTimes in 2012, clearly uncomfortable with the implications of its own expose (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Reveals Obama’s Principles” would have been more accurate).

So it’s fitting that the letter to King, one of the government’s most despicable acts of domestic surveillance, has only fully come to light in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and what Barack Obama promised was going to be the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history.

Alas, when it comes to openness, Barack Obama  neglected to mention that the most disturbing revelations would happen in spite of—not because of—his actions. We didn’t learn that  the president’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, former CIA director Keith Alexander, and current CIA director John Brennan all lied to Congress because the administration suddenly decided to come clean.

And it’s not just unseemly cloak-and-dagger stuff in an age of terrorism that’s causing trust issues. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the Affordable Care Act, has rightfully come under fire for admitting that the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare was a political strategy designed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Nancy Pelosi, who was speaker of the House when Obamacare passed, has carried the deception further still, falsely saying that “I don’t know who [Gruber] is” and that “he didn’t help write our bill” —claims that were immediately revealed as false after about 10 seconds of Googling.

A new survey by The Atlantic of 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders”—“executives, innovators, and thinkers”–asks respondents to name “the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States.” The top three answers are “government regulation/bureaucracy” (20 percent), “immigration policies” (16 percent), and “education” (14 percent). Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.

It’s not just tech gazillionaires who feel this way. Gallup annually asks jes’ plain folks, “Which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to the country in the future—big business, big labor, or big government?” Last December, a record-high 72 percent chose big government. That’s more than double the figure Gallup recorded when the FBI was listening to Martin Luther King’s heavy-breathing sessions. These days, says Pew Research, just 2 percent (!) of us trust the government “to just about always” do the right thing.

Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the “paranoid style in American politics,”. He lamented that, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

But today’s lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn’t seem all that angry. It’s more like we’re resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center.

There’s a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever.

New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line

South Floridians stand in line during the last day of early voting in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012.

South Floridians stand in line during the last day of early voting in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALAN DIAZ

I read this headline and my mouth dropped.  What the hell is wrong with the GOP?   I suppose in their mind, the current political climate makes an insane rule like this quite sane.

President Bill Clinton spoke on this very issue yesterday while touting the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act of 1964 at the LBJ Library in Austin Texas.

Clinton spent much of his speech addressing last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was also signed into law by Johnson. The ruling allows several states with a history of discriminatory voting laws, mostly in the south, to change election laws without federal approval.

“It sent a signal throughout the country,” Clinton said of the ruling. “We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it … Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for?” –  NBC – KXAN

Think Progress

During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.

“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.

Dubin said he was “shocked” at this response, and not just because it suppresses the vote for everybody. The Americans with Disabilities Act also requires entities to make “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. For those with a number of conditions, including diabetics and those taking diuretics, closing the restroom will make standing in that line impossible, and thus discriminate against disabled voters.

But those with disabilities are not the only ones who would suffer disproportionately from this policy. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis found that blacks and Hispanicswaited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 presidential election. Another analysis found that this “time tax” also impacted young voters. And this would be one of a number Florida voter suppression policies that have a particular impact on the elderly.

The state’s next-most populous counties, Broward and Palm Beach, told the Sun Sentinelthey would not implement this policy.

Sunday Talk: White is the new black

Daily Kos

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—when more than 250,000 people descended on the National Mall in support of civil rights, andMartin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

As much of a visionary as Dr. King was, it is unlikely that even he could’ve imagined just how far we’d come in the time since.

The Republican party, which for decades had denounced him as a radical leftist, has now taken to embracing Dr. King asone of their own.

They have also begun to adopt Dr. King’s strategy of non-violent resistance in thefight against President Obama’s efforts to enslave us with health care.

But in what is perhaps the greatest sign of progress in Obama’s America, white people are now just as likely to be the victims of discrimination as black people.

[This line omitted]

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Roundtable:Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Gwen Ifill (PBS), Former White House Press SecretaryRobert Gibbs and Katty Kay (BBC America).Face the Nation: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Anthony Cordesman (Center for Strategic and International Studies).

This Week: Secretary of State John Kerry; Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James CartwrightVali Nasr (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies);Roundtable: Democratic Strategist James Carville, Republican Strategist Mary Matalin, Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal) and Radio Host Tavis Smiley.

Fox News Sunday: Secretary of State John KerryRoundtable: Retired Gen. Jack Keane, Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) andCharles Lane (Washington Post).

State of the Union: Secretary of State John Kerry; Rep. (D-NY); Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA); Former Centcom Commander Gen. Anthony Zinni; Middle East Analyst Robin Wright; Former Chief of Staff to Leon Panetta Jeremy Bash; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna BrazilleDavid Frum (Daily Beast), Democratic Strategist Cornel Belcher and Ross Douthat (New York Times).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on the latest developments in the Costa Concordia salvage operation (preview) an interview with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (preview)  and, a report on educational website “Khan Academy,” which teaches millions of students across the world each month (preview).

Continue reading after the fold…

 

10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2013

A firefighter tries to douse part of the Rim Fire on Aug. 24 near Groveland, Calif.

The Week

World leaders debate military strikes on Syria, California enlists drones to fight a massive wildfire, and more

1. Obama still undecided on Syria strike
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that U.N. experts collecting evidence from an apparent chemical attack in Syria will report to him as soon as they leave the country Saturday. Meanwhile, President Obama said Wednesday that he had not yet made a decision on whether he would order a military strike against Syria. However, administration officials have added that even without hard evidence tying Assad to the attack, the Syrian leader bears ultimate responsibility and should be held accountable. In Britain, opposition leaders forced Prime Minister David Cameron to back down on calls for an immediate strike. [The New York TimesThe Washington PostAssociated Press]
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2. Military drone now helping fight California wildfire
An unmanned military Predator drone is now helping battle a California wildfire that has been raging since Aug. 17. The aircraft is helping to provide round-the-clock information to firefighters; helicopters that needed to refuel every two hours previously provided firefighters with their air information. Crews contained 30 percent of the fire on Wednesday, but at least 4,500 structures remain threatened, as do the power and water utilities for San Francisco and the Bay Area.[NBC News]
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3. Jury recommends death penalty for Fort Hood shooter
A military jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for convicted Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was behind a 2009 massacre that left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded. [CNN]
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4. Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide
Thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities on Thursday, as part of a push to get chains such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell to pay workers more than double the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. It’s expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers. The move comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress, and economists to hike the federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009. [ABC News]
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5. Obama echoes MLK’s words in Lincoln Memorial speech
Tens of thousands of Americans thronged to the National Mall Wednesday to join President Obama, civil rights pioneers, and performers in marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. President Obama challenged new generations to seize the cause of racial equality and honor the “glorious patriots” who marched to the Lincoln Memorial. “The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own,” Obama said. [Huffington Post]
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6. Verizon and Vodafone in buyout talks
Verizon and Vodafone have rekindled talks about a buyout of the U.K. company’s stake in their U.S. wireless joint venture, in a deal that may cost Verizon over $100 billion. Verizon has sought for years to buy out Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in the largest U.S. cellphone carrier, but the companies have never agreed on price. [The Wall Street Journal]
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7. Swedish scientists confirm new periodic table element
Scientists in Sweden have finally confirmed a new element that was first proposed in 2004. The element with the atomic number 115 has yet to be named, but is currently called ununpentium. “Scientists hope that by creating heavier and heavier elements, they will find a theoretical ‘island of stability,’ an undiscovered region in the periodic table where stable super-heavy elements with as yet unimagined practical uses might exist,” according to Live Science[NPR]
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8. “Twerk” gets Oxford’s blessing… sort of
The Oxford University Press announced Wednesday that twerk and selfie, among other words, are being added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. A misunderstanding caused an internet uproar when readers believed that the newfangled words were being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford Dictionaries Online focuses on contemporary English, a distinction that the Oxford University Press noted in its press release. [Slate]
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9. Manziel suspended for first half of Saturday’s game
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy last year, will be suspended for the first half of the team’s season-opening game against Rice on Saturday for an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules regarding autograph signing. A&M senior associate athletic director Jason Cook said both the school and the NCAA found that “there is no evidence Manziel received monetary reward in exchange for autographs,” but added that student-athletes know that autographs are likely to be sold for commercial purposes. [USA TODAY]
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10. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reportedly split up
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are reportedly separated and living apart, though neither has filed for divorce or moved toward a legal separation. The pair, who wed in 2000, have two children. Sources told People that the stresses from Douglas’ 2010 cancer diagnosis and Zeta-Jones’ struggles with bipolar II disorder played a role in the split. [People]

Bill Clinton Explains The Real Way To Honor King’s Dream

Bill Clinton Thumbs Up (Featured)

Think Progress

President Bill Clinton connected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I have a dream” speech to the struggles still facing the nation during a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic address.

“I would respectfully suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock,” Clinton argued. “It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the american people back,” he said, laying out five ways Americans can improve the country:

Ensure equal access to education. “We cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes or to rebuilding our education system to give all our children a common core of knowledge necessary to ensure success. Or to give Americans of all ages access to affordable college and training programs. And we thank the president for his efforts in those regards.”

Implement Obamacare. “We cannot relax in our efforts to implement health care reform in a way that ends discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, one of which is inadequate income to pay for rising health care. A health care reform that will lower cost and lengthen lives.”

Invest in science. “Nor can we stop investing in science and technology to train our young people of all races for the jobs of tomorrow and to act on what we learn about our bodies, our businesses, and our climate.”

Protect the vote. “We cannot be discouraged by a Supreme Court decision that said we don’t need this critical provision of the Voting Rights Act because look at the states. It made it harder for African-Americans and Hispanics and students and the elderly and the infirm and poor working folks to vote. What do you know? They showed up, stood in line for hours, and voted anyway, so obviously we don’t need any kind of law.”

Expand gun safety. “But a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

Watch it:

5 Things You Need To Know About The March On Washington

The National Memo

Birmingham 1963

President Kennedy Initially Resisted The Idea

Unions And A Gay Man Played Key Roles

View_of_Crowd_at_1963_March_on_Washington

John Lewis, The Youngest Speaker At The Event, Was Forced To Revise His Speech

(See video at the above link.)

Women Were Barely Represented

Landscape

Martin Luther King Improvised The “I Have A Dream” Speech

When you watch Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the March on Washington, it’s almost shocking how slowly he begins, plodding along as the crowd cheers him, trying to summon prophecy.

Then several minutes in, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson plays a crucial role in inspiring the man behind the podium that only one woman had been allowed to speak from.

“He was just reading, and she just shouted to him, ‘Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream,’”said Clarence Jones, an advisor to King who had helped write King’s speech. “I was standing about 50 feet behind him, to the right and to the rear, and I watched him — this is all happening in real time — just take the text of his speech and move it to the left side of the lectern, grab the lectern and look out.”

King had spoken about his “dream” before. But if Jackson hadn’t been there that day, we may have been denied a piece of oratory that captured a vision of an America that we’re still trying to realize today.

Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream Speech – August 28, 1963

I Have a Dream Speech

Martin Luther King’s Address at March on Washington
August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Uploaded by sullentoys

Full text of the speech

Unfinished Business Marks March On Washington 50th Anniversary

Participants gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Washington.

I was a witness to the original March on Washington via television.  I was 17 years old and the images and speeches are etched in my mind to this day.  

The effort yesterday was an honorable one and for a the right cause. It was a commentary on our nation to show just how far we’ve come and how much farther we must go to reach true equality.

TPMLiveWire

Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall on Saturday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s famous speech and pledging that his dream includes equality for gays, Latinos, the poor and the disabled.

The event was an homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans. But there was a strong theme of unfinished business.

“This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration,” said Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader. “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.”

Eric Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, said he would not be in office, nor would Barack Obama be president, without those who marched.

“They marched in spite of animosity, oppression and brutality because they believed in the greatness of what this nation could become and despaired of the founding promises not kept,” Holder said.

Holder mentioned gays and Latinos, women and the disabled as those who had yet to fully realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. Others in the crowd advocated organized labor, voting rights, revamping immigration policies and access to local post offices.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, railed against a recent Supreme Court decision that effectively erased a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis was a leader of a 1965 march, where police beat and gassed marchers who demanded access to voting booths.

“I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Ala., for the right to vote,” he said. “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You’ve got to stand up. Speak up, speak out and get in the way.”

Organizers expected about 100,000 people to participate in the event, the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march.

Marchers began arriving early Saturday, many staking out their spots as the sun rose in a clear sky over the Capitol. By midday, tens of thousands had gathered on the National Mall.

Lynda Chambers, 58, gave up a day’s pay to attend because her retail job does not provide paid vacation. Even as a 7-year-old at the time of the original march, she felt alienated and deprived of her rights. Remembering those feelings, she said, she was compelled to make the trip Saturday.

“I wanted to have some sort of connection to what I have always known, as far as being a black person,” she said.

Speakers frequently mentioned persistent high unemployment among blacks, which is about twice that of white Americans, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. Along the Mall, Martin’s picture was nearly as ubiquitous as King’s.

Nancy Norman, of Seattle, said she was disappointed more people who look like her had not attended. She is white. But the 58-year-old she said she was glad to hear climate change discussed alongside voting rights.

“I’m the kind of person who thinks all of those things are interconnected. Climate change is at the top of my list,” Norman said. “I don’t think it’s one we can set aside for any other discussion.”

Those in attendance arrived in a post-9/11 Washington that was very different from the one civil rights leaders visited in 1963.

Then, people crowded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and could get close to King to hear his speech. Saturday’s speakers were also on the memorial’s steps, but metal barriers kept people away from the reflecting pool and only a small group of attendees was allowed near the memorial Saturday.

There was a media area and VIP seating. Everyone else had been pushed back and watched and listened to the speeches on big-screen televisions. Police were stationed atop the Lincoln Memorial. After the speeches, marchers walked from there, past the King Memorial, then down the National Mall to the Washington Monument, a distance of just over a mile.

On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place King stood when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Obama will be joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m. Wednesday, marking the exact time King spoke.

On Friday, a coalition of black leaders issued what they said is the 21st century agenda for the nation as it marks the watershed civil rights event that helped bring about the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The 1963 march drew some 250,000 to the National Mall and ushered in the idea of massive, nonviolent demonstrations.

The leaders named economic parity, equity in education, voting rights, health care access and criminal justice reform as national policy priorities.

Organizers of Saturday’s march hoped this year’s event would serve to inspire people again to educate themselves about issues they see as making up the modern civil rights struggle.

“It’s very difficult to stomach the fact that Trayvon wasn’t committing any crime. He was on his way home from the store,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, said Friday as she prepared to participate in the march. “Don’t wait until it’s at your front door. Don’t wait until something happens to your child. … This is the time to act now. This is the time to get involved.”