Old Main bell to ring today in honor of 'I Have a Dream' anniversary

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Aug. 28, 1963 -- 50 years ago today -- Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

At 3 p.m. today, Penn State's Old Main bell will ring out as part of a celebration taking place across the nation in which hundreds of sites will ring bells in commemoration of his powerful words.

As King brought his speech to a close, he urged listeners to "let freedom ring," quoting from the patriotic song, "America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)":

“When we allow freedom to ring — when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last.'"

In 1965, a few weeks after he received the Nobel Peace Prize, King visited the University Park campus and addressed a crowd of 8,000 at Rec Hall on "the future of integration." His intent was to rally public support for ending all forms of segregation. He said in his speech that all Americans must remain alert to segregation's existence, for "if democracy is to live, segregation must die."

A Penn State Historical Marker today stands near Rec Hall to commemorate that speech.

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Last Updated August 28, 2013