PDT Staff Writer
There are some events that occur in our lives which cause us to recall where we were when they occurred. One of those events was the March on Washington.
Now, 50 years later, the citizens of the Portsmouth area are being invited to commemorate these words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at an event this afternoon - “And I say to you today my friends, 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 mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and 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’re free at last!’”
“It is one of the greatest speeches,” Portsmouth Mayor David Malone said. “It has even gone down in history as one of the greatest speeches in America.”
Malone said the greatness in the speech is that it crosses racial and socio-economic barriers.
“It touches every ethnic group,” Malone said.
Malone talked about what the speech means to him as a political leader in the community.
“It means we have to take up the challenge, and that we have to look at equality for all people, and not have any prejudices or any personal ideas about any individual, and that everybody deserves an equal chance to survive and make their lives better,” Malone said.
Residents are being asked to meet a few minutes before 3 p.m. today at the Central Fire Station on Gallia Street for a “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m., and to take part in a short program.
“We’re just going to commemorate the march and the purpose of the march which is to address equality for all people to affirm the unity of people of all races, religion and even nations,” Malone said.
President Obama will speak during the “Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action” commemoration on the steps of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial, the site of King’s address on Aug. 28, 1963, the White House said.
Other speakers include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The ceremony will follow an interfaith service at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.