Local plans to commemorate the March on Washington's 50th annive - WRBL

Local plans to commemorate the March on Washington's 50th anniversary

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Thousands gather at the National Mall to commemorate 50th anniv. of March on Washington. Courtesy: Marquese Averett Thousands gather at the National Mall to commemorate 50th anniv. of March on Washington. Courtesy: Marquese Averett
Thousands gather at the National Mall to commemorate 50th anniv. of March on Washington. Courtesy: Marquese Averett Thousands gather at the National Mall to commemorate 50th anniv. of March on Washington. Courtesy: Marquese Averett
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech, and celebrations will be going on in Columbus to commemorate the occasion.

Bells will ring throughout Columbus at 3 p.m., the exact moment Dr. King ended his speech at the National Mall. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will join others in observing how far we've come since the sixties.

"It's just an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, the spirit of the 'I Have A Dream' speech," says the mayor, "and ask ourselves, do all citizens have freedom to live a prosperous life, freedom to live in peaceful coexistence and freedom to access their government?"

Mayor Tomlinson thinks Dr. King would be thrilled to see the nation's progress in electing people of color to power, but there's still work to be done.

Marquese Averett, president of the Young Minority Leaders, agrees. "There's this school-to-prison pipeline," he says, "Florida's still standing their ground, New York's still stopping and frisking, and so 50 years later I don't think the dream has been realized."

He rode with more than 50 people to Washington, DC over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary there. He says the experience solidified his faith in people to stand up for what they believe in, and he hopes the country will continue to make progress.

Averett says you can see the work that still needs to be done on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards across the country. He's working to change that in Columbus.

He and others, alongside the city's planning department, are developing the MLK Boulevard streetscape design to make the throughway one to honor its namesake. "When you talk about a man that fought for freedom, equality and justice, and in every city you go to his name sits on what he would call a 'lonely isolated island of poverty.' That doesn't represent him," says Averett.

Mayor Tomlinson says, "We're happy to do these great projects, but first the citizens have to believe and have a vision for their own neighborhood, and so it's been exciting to me as an elected official to watch citizens come forward and want to partner with the city."

The mayor and city officials will be at MLK Elementary School for the ringing of the bells. A number of churches throughout the city are also participating. Mayor Tomlinson also encourages you to ring bells of your own at 3 p.m.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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