6:29 PM / Thursday September 21, 2023

4 Aug 2013

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech and the March on Washington at the National Constitution Center

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August 4, 2013 Category: Local Posted by:

In conjunction with this summer’s acclaimed feature exhibition The 1968 Exhibit, the National Constitution Center will look back on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose life was tragically cut short in 1968—on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the iconic “I Have a Dream” Speech. On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, through moving live performances and thought-provoking discussions, visitors will explore the civil rights movement of the 1960s and reflect on how our nation has changed over the past 50 years. All activities are FREE with general museum admission. 


To celebrate this important anniversary, the museum is partnering with White Pines Productions, Global Citizen, the Philadelphia Folksong Society, the William Way LGBT Community Center, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.


The centerpiece of the day will be a concert followed by an awe-inspiring theatrical recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech, beginning at 1 p.m. on the museum’s Grand Hall Overlook. Featuring blues/soul singer Alexis P. Suter, hailed for her powerful “gale-force voice” (NPR), the concert will highlight 1960s favorites that were performed by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and other music legends at the 1963 March on Washington. A diverse ensemble of local actors will perform a passionate recitation of the “I Have a Dream” Speech in the style of a Greek chorus. 


Visitors can also join a discussion about Bayard Rustin—the architect of the March on Washington and a close mentor of Dr. King’s—with scholar Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Rustin biographer Dr. Michael Long at 11 a.m. in F.M. Kirby Auditorium. The discussion will be paired with select readings from the play Rustin and the March by William di Canzio, performed by highly regarded Philadelphia actors Frank X, James Ijames, and Aimee Kelly. This program is presented in partnership with White Pines Productions. 


Other activities and events throughout the day include: 



Stories of ’68: Memories of Dr. King

The 1968 Exhibit

As part of our Stories of ’68 program, visitors are invited to share their personal memories of Dr. King, the civil rights movement, and the March on Washington. 



MLK and His Legacy

Grand Hall Lobby

10 AM., 12 PM, and 2 PM

Visitors can learn about Dr. King’s vision of himself as an agent of service, how that understanding led him to the use of nonviolent activism, and how other leaders from around the world have echoed Dr. King’s call to service in the name of community betterment.



Trailblazers to Freedom Traveling Trunks

DeVos Hall

Straight from the African American Museum in Philadelphia, these trunks shed light on the personal, professional, and political lives of Philadelphia’s diverse early African American community with replica artifacts, clothing, and documents packed into each. Be introduced to Octavius Catto, scholar, educator, abolitionist, and baseball player, as well as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, fiery abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and poet. These trunks were prepared in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia, with the support of Comcast, by Interpret Green.



Civil Rights Story Time

Annenberg Center for Outreach and Education Lobby

Throughout the day, families can listen to stories about Dr. King, from books including Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington by Frances E. Ruffin, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler, and My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold. Stories will be read by representatives from Global Citizen.



Talk Back Board

Grand Hall Lobby

9 AM – 5 PM

Visitors can post their responses to questions related to Dr. King, diversity, and citizenship on a special “talk back” board in the museum’s Grand Hall Lobby. 



Craft and Activity Tables

Grand Hall Lobby

9 AM– 4 PM

Families will have the opportunity to create “I Have a Dream…” mobiles and refrigerator magnets featuring civil rights heroes.   


The must-see exhibition of the summer, The 1968 Exhibit, brings one of America’s most colorful, chaotic, culture-shifting years vividly to life. On display for a limited time only through September 2, 2013, the exhibition illuminates the power of “We the People” to exercise and expand our freedoms. Visitors can view an actual Bell “Huey” helicopter used by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and a full-size replica of the Apollo 8 command module.


Guests will flip over iconic pop culture memorabilia like the sweater and sneakers worn by Fred Rogers in the show Mister Rogers Neighborhood; plus, you can kick back and enjoy clips of 1968’s most popular TV shows and movies.


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