A small crowd gathered at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The event was put together by the recently founded St. Louis Reconciliation Network, which has the mission of bridging racial divides through the collaboration of religious leaders.
“May our children be the generation be the generation that sees the stark dividing line of Delmar Blvd. dissolve,” Gustafson said. “May the ugly and hateful names some of us use for others never be heard again, either behind closed doors, online or in public.”
Larry Smith brought his daughter to the event, and like many in the crowd, said the anniversary presents an opportunity to inspire young people to be more engaged in civil rights issues.
“Her only recollection of Dr. King is through events like this,” Smith said. “A lot of folks don’t realize that he fought for equality amongst classes and equality amongst genders, as well. So, he was important for gender rights and important for class rights.”
Listen to thoughts from others in attendance, the 50th anniversary is on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.
A St. Louis organization is marking the occasion Saturday at 10 a.m. in Kiener Plaza.
The St. Louis Reconciliation Network is calling the event MLK50. There will be a reading of the original speech, music and a march to Christ Church Cathedral, one of the few places in St. Louis where King spoke.
King gave his speech on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The main focus of Saturday’s event will be to really listen to the speech, according to David Gustafson, the founder and president of the St. Louis Reconciliation Network.
"It’s to reflect upon and celebrate the successes that we’ve had and the progress that we’ve made over the last 50 years, but also to think about the many ways we’ve fallen short of his original dream," he said.
This is the organization’s first big public event. Gustafson founded it last year with the mission of helping heal the region’s race relations, he said.