Lindley Estes covers the University of Mary Washington for and The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at 
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UMW observing 50th anniversary of March on Washington today

The University of Mary Washington will observe the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington today with bells and a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

At 3 p.m., the bell on UMW’s Fredericksburg campus will toll to join the nationwide Let Freedom Ring celebration.

Throughout the day members of campus will recite excerpts from the “I Have a Dream Speech” in a video presentation to be shown on televisions across the school.

At 11 a.m. in the Underground, the University will broadcast the anniversary march and presidential speech taking place in Washington, D.C.

“The march was a momentous occasion during the civil rights movement, because it was attended by so many followed by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Leah Cox, special assistant for diversity and inclusion in a press release from the university. “This moment was further enhanced by Dr. King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Fifty years later we are still working to achieve social justice for many groups with the issues that are now confronting our nation. It’s a renewal of our commitment to achieving equality.”

According to the release, the commemoration also honors the work of civil rights leader and former UMW professor James L. Farmer Jr., who founded the Congress of Racial Equality [CORE].

Farmer, one of the “Big Four” civil rights leaders, worked with King on nonviolent protests. Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to UMW students for about a dozen years before he retired in 1998.

The release said, on the day King delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, Farmer was in jail for “disturbing the peace” in Plaquemine, La.  He sent his own speech to the March on Washington, which was read by a CORE aide: “We will not stop,” Farmer wrote, “until the dogs stop biting us in the South and the rats stop biting us in the North.”

In 2011 UMW held a celebration for the Freedom Rides,  a peaceful effort in which individuals boarded commercial buses to challenge racial segregation in interstate transportation that Farmer organized in the summer of 1961.

The school also celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. annually in January with Martin Luther King Jr. service week.


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