PBS to honor March on Washington

If, as the saying goes, our “past is prologue,” then now is a good time to watch a program of profound significance.

It tells us of a huge event in our past, something that occurred 50 years ago. It set the tone for a national discussion on race relations that we’re still having to this very day.


PBS is going to broadcast a one-hour documentary Tuesday night, to be shown at 8 p.m. on KACV-TV, that takes us back to a day — Aug. 28, 1963 — when a quarter-million people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and heard a series of speeches. The speeches told of the struggle of black Americans to gain the full rights of citizenship to which they were entitled, but were being denied.

The event was capped off by a speech delivered by a 33-year-old Baptist preacher, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He told of how the “Negro was not yet free.” Dr. King labored through his prepared text and then launched into an extemporaneous riff about his “dream.”

The speech has come to be known over the half-century since as the “I Have a Dream” oratory that captivated the nation as well as the enormous audience spread out before the pldium that day.

The March on Washington occurred and then it passed. Just a few days later, Ku Klux Klan terrorists bombed a church in Birmingham, Ala., killing four little girls. Just shy of three months later, President Kennedy was murdered. The new president, Texan Lyndon Johnson, vowed to carry through JFK’s promise of persuading Congress to approve the Civil Rights Act and the following year he delivered on his promise by signing the act into law.

PBS takes us back to that warm summer day in the nation’s capital. The events of that day lit a spark that has burned brightly to this day.


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