Obama to Speak on Anniversary of March on Washington

The march was widely credited with helping to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Posted: 08/07/2013 02:31 PM EDT

President Obama will speak at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic  I Have a Dream speech  speech that galvanized the nation, the White House announced on Wednesday.

The nation’s first African-American president’s appearance at the event in Washington is widely regarded as doubly historic.

It also promises to be the most recent event where the president will speak to issues related to race in America. Over the time of his presidency, Obama has often spoken with great admiration for the slain civil rights leader. Just last month, the president spoke about the aftermath of the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty by a Florida jury after facing charges of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

The decision to speak at the event in Washington represents another milestone occasion in the Obama presidency when it comes to race. The president is likely not just to honor the words of King some 50 years ago, but also to delve into the disparities of life for many African-American.

The speech by King was a landmark occasion in the life of the civil rights leader. It has since become widely hailed as one of the most important speeches of the 20th Century.

On Aug. 28, 1963, during the adminstration of President John F. Kennedy, more than a quarter of a million people came to the nation's capital to march, listen to music — Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan and Marian Anderson were some of the performers — and hear speeches about civil rights, employment and economic empowerment. It was planned by A. Phillip Randolph, the president of the Negro American Labor Council, it also marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.

The march was widely credited with helping to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and was one of America's most defining moments of political action by citizens.  

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(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

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