Tens of thousands of marchers kicked off the 50th anniversary commemorations of the March on Washington today, honoring the civil rights progress made since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. But they also lamented what they called new attacks on racial and social equality. Addressing the crowd, Eric Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, thanked those who marched a half-century ago and said neither he nor President Obama would be in office without them.
The Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington drew some 250,000 people to the National Mall, ushered in the idea of massive, nonviolent demonstrations, and helped bring about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The event today was the precursor to the actual anniversary of the march. On that day, Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place King stood when he delivered his speech. Read about the Washington Post's mea culpa about its coverage 50 years ago, and about why it remains difficult to hear King's speech in full even today.