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I Have a Dream: 1963

I Have a Dream: 1963

      Fifty years ago today in Washington on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous address under the gaze of Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years earlier.

August 28, 1963. "Emancipator looking down on demonstrators. Participants in the March on Washington in front of the Lincoln Memorial and massed along both sides of the Reflecting Pool, viewed from behind Abraham Lincoln statue." Photo by James K. Atherton for United Press International. View full size.

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I recall reading that James Atherton got this photo by mounting his camera on a long pole and snapping a series of photos, hoping to get at least one that was usable.

He was a remarkable photographer whose career brought us iconic images of events from the McCarthy hearings to Watergate. For me, those images carry more impact than the hours of live television and pointless commentary that have largely replaced them.

He died two years ago at age 83.

Less crowded

I visited Washington, D.C. for the first time last May at age 58. I was in awe of all the buildings and institutions I'd come to know only through photographs, movies and TV.

On the day we visited the Lincoln Memorial the chamber was open to the public, and it was nigh on to impossible to get a photo of my wife and I in front of the statue without seeing at least a dozen other tourists like us milling about. I'm sure it is like that practically every day, except for special events. Yet I suppose I rather naively expected to get as clear a shot as you see in professional pictures of the memorial. But this was the best I could do.

My link to this event

A good friend of mine, thru an amazing adventure, sat in the front row of the audience for this speech. She was dancing on Broadway in 1963, went up to Harlem to buy a ticket for the event, and ended up taking Ralph Abernathy's seat and box lunch(she thinks), because he was in jail down South. She's looked at photos of the audience for years to try to find herself with no success, but I saw a picture on TV the other day with a blonde woman in the front row--that would be Mary!

We've All Benefited

Looking at this photo gives me goosebumps. I'm tremendously grateful for those who risked their lives so that people like my ancestors--almost all white--wouldn't be the only ones whose progeny could pursue their dreams. (On a less exalted note: the composition of this photo is purely stunning, right down to the lights flaring toward the lens and the guy walking off purposely to get something or the other done.)

Republican Fallacy

Right on Dave!


This POV suggests a commingling of Lincoln's 1863 dreams for the Union and the dreams of the 1963 marchers. Never seen this before, why isn't it massively famous?

Don't get comfortable

In my great-grandparents' time, the USA had slaves.

My grandmothers could not vote when they were 21 because they were women.

In my time, we had segregated public schools and black people could not vote in much of the US.

In my time, murdering civil rights workers was acceptable in court.

I'm only 50 years old.

Enjoy the progress but stay vigilant.

The reason for the setting.

He chose the Lincoln Memorial for two reasons the first being that Lincoln helped free the slaves, and the second that both Lincoln and Martin Luther King were Republicans. That is a little known but true historical fact that I highly doubt Shorpy will post.

[The notion that MLK was a Republican is a fallacy -- an "urban legend" with no evidence to support it. As for "highly doubt Shorpy will post" -- we post inane comments all the time! - Dave]

Your extremely rude comment was not necessary Dave and I will refrain from being as rude as you since I am a gentleman but his own Niece Alveda King claims he was a Republican. Please refrain from such obtuse rudeness in the future Dave

[There is no evidence that conservative commentator Alveda King's claim is true; in fact her uncle actively campaigned against Barry Goldwater after he won the 1964 Republican presidential nomination. - Dave]

The tears are coming

This just gives my heart a lift.


What a great, historic picture. Great angle too.

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