Press Room

Washington, DC, August 19, 2013

Washington National Cathedral Announces Plans to Commemorate March on Washington Anniversary

Special forum to feature audio of King’s last Sunday sermon; Cathedral bells to ring at exact time of ‘I Have a Dream’ speech 50 years earlier

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Washington, D.C.—Washington National Cathedral has announced plans to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. From joining the commemorative marches planned in downtown Washington to hosting a special forum featuring audio of King’s last Sunday sermon delivered at the Cathedral in 1968, members of the Cathedral community will join in a series of events to stand up for the ongoing struggle for civil rights and racial equality in America.

“The availability of jobs, and our ability as Americans of many backgrounds to enjoy the same freedoms, have become as pressingly needed now as when Martin Luther King called for them 50 years ago,” said the Cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall. “That these issues are made more complex by our country’s unwillingness to address racial disparities—in any meaningful terms—is made only more clear by the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act and our deep division over the tragic, unnecessary death of Trayvon Martin. We at Washington National Cathedral commit to placing frank dialogue about the need for racial equality, along with other civil rights, at the forefront of our efforts to advance the dream of Dr. King.”

Dean Hall will lead a contingent from the Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington on Saturday, August 24, in the commemorative March on Washington from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Memorial. Then on Sunday, August 25, the Cathedral will hold a special forum in which audio excerpts of King’s sermon “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” delivered at the Cathedral in March 1968, will be played. The Rev. Michael McBride, director of PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing campaign, will join Dean Hall in reflecting on King’s message, and discuss the current issues pressing the nation in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing. Dean Hall will also preach from the same pulpit in which King delivered his last Sunday sermon nearly five years after the March on Washington. The special forum at 10:10 am and the service of Holy Eucharist at 11:15 am Sunday are both open to all and will be webcast live at

To culminate the series of events, at 3 pm on Wednesday, August 28—the exact date and time of Dr. King’s speech 50 years ago—the Cathedral carillon (a set of bells in the central tower) will join with houses of worship across the country to ring out in honor of the anniversary by playing the hymns and spirituals, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”

The National Cathedral has a long-standing connection to advancing social justice as part of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s ministry. The Cathedral’s fifth dean, the Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre, Jr., flew to Alabama in March 1965 to join Dr. King on the final leg of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Sayre’s decision to invite King to preach in 1968 was met with criticism. Dr. King observed in that sermon, which would become his last major Sunday preaching moment, that “[t]hrough our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.” A niche statue depicting King preaching is carved in one of the Cathedral’s bays on the main level with the inscription, “I have a dream.”

SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral