To commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and as a tribute to his legacy, the University of Arizona community will join others throughout the state in ringing bells at noon on Aug. 28.
It was five decades ago Wednesday that King spoke to about 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., denouncing racism and calling for an end to discrimination. The speech has come to be known as one of the most defining moments in U.S. history.
"Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial one of the most influential and memorable speeches in American history. It was a defining moment in our nation's Civil Rights Movement," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer noted in a statement released Tuesday.
Brewer urged the statewide community to ring bells at noon and to "take time to revisit and reflect on his message. Dr. King stirred the country with his vision for a brighter future. The principles he so eloquently preached from those steps in 1963 are no less significant today. Let us carry on the legacy of that speech – and of Dr. King himself."
In ringing the bells, Raji Rhys, the UA's chief diversity officer, urged individuals to take a moment to think about those individuals of the past and today who dedicate their lives working toward equality.
"King led, inspired and collaborated with many others, including unsung heroes and ordinary people like you and me, to change America," Rhys said, noting that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were subsequent achievements.
Rhys also urged action. "Take the next step and answer the call to do more. Think about what you can do in your own everyday life, big or small, to make Dr. King’s dream of equality a reality for all Americans.Together, as a nation, we have been tremendous strides. Yet, we must continue to march until the dream is realized for everyone, everywhere."
In addition to the ringing of the bells, several UA community members also will participate in a Tucson community-based march and program, which will be held Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Armory Park, 220 S. Sixth Ave.