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March on Washington: 50th Anniversary

10:14 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Thousands of people have gathered in D.C. to commemorate the historic March on Washington.

August 28 marks fifty years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

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Wednesday's events began at the Shiloh Baptist Church and continue on the National Mall and other locations.

Here's a sample of the statements made in observance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech:

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"We rightly and best remember Dr. King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time." -President Barack Obama.

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"My parents did their fair share and I feel like we have to keep the fight alive... This is hands-on history." -Frantz Walker, 46, a honey salesman from Baltimore, who attended the anniversary march with his son Nicholas, 10, and daughter, Malaika, 8, since his parents were active in civil rights movement.

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"Whether it's protecting voting rights, providing equal rights to the LGBT community, or making sure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives, the work to complete Dr. King's dream is far from finished." - Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

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"He was a pastor, he was a prophet, he was a faith leader. It was that faith and the spirit of God that infused that movement." - The Rev. Bernice King, daughter.

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"I thought we would be a lot further along than we are." -John Pruitt, 83, of Huntsville, Ala., a voter rights advocate who attended both the 50th anniversary ceremony and 1963 march.

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"In many ways, this singular event redefined the American experience and, to this day, Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of an America without the burdens of prejudice and discrimination remains an unparalleled vision of our county's potential." - Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

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"Dr. King was on this Earth just 39 years, but the ideals that guided his life of conscience and purpose are eternal...There's still a need for every American to help hasten the day when Dr. King's vision is made real in every community - when what truly matters is not the color of a person's skin, but the content of their character." -President George W. Bush.

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"The disability rights movement that I'm a part of that I dedicate my life to is actually an extension of the original civil rights movement. I wanted to do everything I can to school the boys in the ways of the civil rights movement and not just generally but how it effects them personally." -Ollie Cantos, 43, a lawyer from Arlington, Va., who attended the commemorative ceremony with his 14-year-old triplets, Leo, Nick and Steven.

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"Today we honor the vision and dedication of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who came to our nation's capital to demand an end to discrimination. We are forever grateful for their courage, commitment, and capacity to change the course of our nation's history." - Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.

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"It's a history lesson that they can take with them for the rest of their lives." -Jerome Williams, 57, a plumber from Washington, D.C., who attended the anniversary ceremony with his wife and two children.

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"You only register progress by how far you have to go. ... The fight has just begun and we can never accept the status quo until the word progress is taken out of our vocabulary." -NBA legend Bill Russell, who attended both the 1963 march and spoke at the anniversary.

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"The fact he was here 50 years ago and is here still fighting is a testament to his character. He's a model for all of us who fight for justice." -Blake Selzer, 47, of Washington, D.C., as he carried a sign reading, "Thank you Congressman John Lewis," one of the 1963 march organizers. Selzer, who is white and works for an international civil rights group, said Lewis has been his hero since he was a child.

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"On this day 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. kindled Americans' hopes that his dream of full equality could be achieved. While we have made great progress, we still haven't achieved that laudable and necessary goal. And today's march shows the dream that Dr. King spoke about is very much alive in the hearts and souls of America." - Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

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