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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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UMW community commemorates 50 years since MLK's historic speech in Washington


This past week, thousands of individuals descended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of the 50thanniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic, “I Have a Dream” speech and the historic March on Washington.  To honor this day, the University of Mary Washington hosted several events paying respects to King’s speech.

UMW, downtown Fredericksburg churches and more than 300 sites across the nation rang their bells to rejoice the success of civil rights throughout history. The first event began at 3 p.m. near the Bell Tower.

“I believe the day was extremely significant as we looked fifty years to the day the famous speech was made and discussed and thought about the progress made in racial equality since that time,” said President Rick Hurley.

The second event occurred throughout the day in the gymnasium, academic buildings and dining halls. The event involved a filmed recitation of the “I Have a Dream” speech with faculty and students narrating it.

Leah Cox, the special assistant to the president at Mary Washington for diversity and inclusion, put together  the ideas for the film.

“I wanted to just have our community recite and interpret the speech today in their way with today’s thoughts and meaning. This is an iconic speech that should be heard as many times as possible,” she said.

Kevin Lopez, a senior sociology major, volunteered as one of the students for Cox’s film.

“I was very honored to be asked to speak in the video. I always like to become involved in projects, activities, programs or events that honor and highlight diversity and historical events. So to become part of a video that highlights the civil rights movement, I felt like being a part of history,” Lopez said.

Cedric Rucker, associate vice president and dean of student life, was a member of the video too.

Rucker said that he was ecstatic to be a part of a project that celebrating an extremely important segment in history greatly impacted him at a young age.

UMW “looked at a way to be active here,” he said.

The last event was a live showing of the march taking place on the Lincoln Memorial, which took place in the Underground dining hall and the James Farmer Multicultural Center.

“It was one of those moments to pause and reflect,” Rucker said.