Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On this day in 1963, King called for racial and economic justice on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On Wednesday, President Obama, along with former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, stood in the same spot.
They paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader and the 250,000 marchers.
“Because they marched, state legislators changed, city councils changed and congress changed and yes, eventually, the White House changed,” Obama said.
The day was filled with dance, music and marches in our nation’s capital.
Bells rang across the city to mark the 50th anniversary, while in a Minneapolis classroom, lessons of the past are being taught today.
Teacher Charles Mikissac, Jr, was born in the south and considers himself a product of the civil rights era.
He says his students at Jenny Lind Elementary didn’t even know who Dr. King was or what the march on Washington was about.
Mikissac made it his mission to change that.
“He helped us become what we are today in our community,” student Janiyah Onenaly said.
A commemorative march in St. Paul was meant to recapture the spirit of those who marched before them.
“Justice is something that you are unfortunately are not born with, you have to fight for,” Jeff Martin, President of St. Paul’s NAACP, said.
Many here were not even born when the crowd flooded the Washington mall to hear Dr. King’s famous speech.
Organizers hope to inspire the next generation.
“To move forward with the same dream with the same power with the same vision because our work here isn’t done,“ Martin said.
Many acknowledge that the current disparities in education, employment and wages are a problem.
“We’ve got to go from civil rights to true inclusion, “Congressman Keith Ellison said.
But one look at MiKassac’s classroom and you can see how far our country has come.
“The only way for that dream to come true, he had to put something down on it and spend some time with it. You have to pay the cost to be the boss,” MiKassac said
Students at Jenny Lind Elementary watched President Obama’s speech and then held a short discussion afterwards.
Teachers say the children were inspired by his words and many say they are committed to continuing building on what Dr. King’s speech began 50 years ago.