President Barack Obama, former President Jimmy Carter, first lady Michelle Obama, and former President Bill Clinton celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
"On a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation’s capital, under the shadow of the Great Emancipator -- to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress and to awaken America’s long-slumbering conscience," President Obama said of the marchers.
"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 Obama said. "But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV."
"This march and that speech changed America. They opened minds, they melted hearts and they moved millions, including a 17-year-old boy watching alone in his home in Arkansas," former President Clinton said. "It was an empowering moment, but also an empowered moment."
Forest Whitaker, star of Lee Daniels' The Butler, was among the Hollywood stars speaking at the event.
Jamie Foxxcalled uponKanye West, Jay Z, Will Smith, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington to become today's civil rights leaders.
Vice President Biden and Joe Lowery
Vice President Joe Biden spoke with civil rights icon Dr. Joseph Lowery during the rally.
Singer LeAnn Rimes performed "Amazing Grace" for the crowd. “Do not know how I’m going to make it through singing Amazing Grace tmrw w/o crying,” Rimes tweeted one day before the rally. “I’m truly honored & humbled to be a part of tmrw’s event.”
The National Mall
Thousands descended upon the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the event.
Martin Luther King III
Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights icon, told the crowd his father "often talked about how sometimes we must take positions that are not safe or unpopular ... because our conscience tells us they are right."
"As the bells toll, let us remind ourselves: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" Oprah Winfrey said. "As the bells toll, we commit to a life of service because Dr. King, one of my favorite quotes from him is, 'Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.'"