McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

August 30, 2013

Dream speech rings a bell

McALESTER — People gathered around the church bell at Mt. Triumph Baptist Church on Wednesday as children rang the bell in honor of the 50th anniversary of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have A Dream.”

The ringing was part of a nationwide celebration of a turning point in civil rights history.

Several men, women and children gathered outside of the church, on Wyandotte Avenue, as Pastor Anthony Washington led the celebration that began with a prayer and a call to action.

“You have an obligation to do something for yourself. To ask for a hand up — not a hand out,” he told those attending.

Children took turns ringing the bell a total of 50 times.

The ringing was symbolic of the 50 years since King’s speech and it was also part of the nationwide celebration where bells were rang at same time 3 p.m. eastern time King’s speech was orginally delivered, according to Washington.

In the 1950s and 60s, Dr. King was a Baptist minister who pushed for racial equality using non-violent means. In 1963, people watched and listened on the radio and television as police used water cannons and police dogs to attack King, his staff and others who participated in a non-violent march in Birmingham, Ala.

The attention led King to help organize a historic march on Washington, DC, on Aug. 28, 1963 where King gave his historic “I Have a Dream Speech.”

Meanwhile during Wednesday’s celebration Loise Washington displayed a United Civil Rights Leadership certificate that was once  presented to the late Carl Albert for his work in passing civil rights legislation.

Also during the ceremony, Anthony Washington called to mind the non-violent actions taken by Dr. King and told the crowd not to answer violence with violence and encourage the young people.

“Let young people know they are standing on the shoulders of great civil rights leaders ,” Washington said. “ Wade Watts, Carl Albert, Gene Stipe and many others have stood up and fought for the poor and underprivileged. Let the young people know, tell them ‘You are somebody.’”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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