Landmark of the Month (March): The Lincoln Memorial (Part IV)

The Lincoln Memorial has also been the site of some of history's most famous events. I
offer three examples:

1) 1939: Opera singer Marian Anderson was refused permission to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington because she was an African-American. The year before, Ms. Anderson had given seventy recitals in the United States--at that time, the longest, most intensive tour in concert history for any singer. At the suggestion of the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson performed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939, to a live audience of 75,000, and a nationwide radio audience.

Marian Anderson is greeted by Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the
Interior, at the Lincoln Memorial on 9 April 1939 .

Marian Anderson performs before 75,000 spectators.

You can watch a film of that day

2) 1994: After years of separation, Forrest Gump is reunited with
Jenny during a massive protest at the Lincoln Memorial (theoretically,

it was the Vietnam protest of October 15, 1969). You can see where the

jubilant reunion took place, and even re-enact it yourself.

Forrest Gump, looking for Jenny.

And what I consider the most significant:

3) August 28, 1963: An estimated 250,000 crowded the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr deliver his famous "I Have A Dream" speech as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a high point of the American Civil Rights Movement. A marked tile designates the place where Dr. King stood during his speech. You can stand on the spot today, and get a sense of modern-day history.

Before the speech.

Four days before the rally, King told a Birmingham journalist that he felt his Aug 28th speech needed to be a "Gettysburg Address" kind of speech- noteworthy and inspiring and memorable.

Forty-five years later, here is a brief snippet of the 604 words he came up with:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed --- "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation this must come true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that ---

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

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!

You can watch it here.

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