Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. offered a transcendent vision of racial harmony for America's future with his "I Have a Dream" speech, tens of thousands gathered where he spoke Saturday to hear leaders tell them that while much has been attained, much remains unfinished.
"Dreams are for those who won't accept reality as it is, so they dream of what is not there and make it possible," the Rev. Al Sharpton, an event organizer, told throngs that pulsated with enthusiasm in response, laughing, cheering, nodding and clapping.
Orators speaking steps from where King stood outlined what they said promises yet unfulfilled in preserving voting rights, quelling gun violence, reducing economic disparity and achieving equal protection under the law. The thousands attending were more female, Hispanic and diverse by sexual orientation — and far more tech-savvy — than their predecessors 50 years before.
Many said they felt an inspiring sense of unity while witnessing history. "It's beautiful around here," says 17-year-old Margaret Foster, who attended with her mother, Tamilikia, from Lansing, Mich.