Two score and Ten years ago today a crowd descended upon Washington. They were assembled as a movement that traversed the South with Freedom Riders, sat-in at segregated lunch counters, and refused to move to the back of the bus. It was a black crowd that filled the Mall that day, but it was also a white crowd as well. It was an American crowd. The movement crystalized into a moment when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But the threads of history ran deeper than that moment, as Dr. King explained.