WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama was expected to speak just after an organized ringing of bells by churches across the country today at 3 p.m., the time when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his spellbinding “I Have a Dream” speech.
Obama will be joined by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at the memorial’s steps, as well as Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, who signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The final refrain of King’s most famous speech will echo around the world as bells from churches, schools and historical monuments “let freedom ring” in celebration of a powerful moment in civil rights history.
Commemorations are planned from the site of the speech in Washington to the far reaches of Alaska, where participants plan to ring cow bells along with church bells in Juneau. A march, led by a replica of a transit bus that civil rights leader Rosa Parks rode when she refused to give up her seat to a white man in 1955, and an interfaith service were held this morning.