Stanford's King Institute commemorates 50th anniversary of March on Washington

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford and the City of Palo Alto are hosting an event Aug. 26 to remember the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Stanford historian Clayborne Carson will be a featured speaker.

AP Photo MLK at March on Washington

Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963.

This month marks 50 years since the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when 200,000 demonstrators gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to push for a federal civil rights bill and Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

On Monday, in downtown Palo Alto, Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute will join with the City of Palo Alto to celebrate the anniversary of the march, making special note of the connection between Silicon Valley and King's legacy.

Among the featured speakers is Stanford history Professor Clayborne Carson, who directs the King Institute and attended the march as a 19-year-old from New Mexico.

"Silicon Valley, the site of history's greatest revolution in communications technology, can and should play a major role in disseminating the visionary ideas associated with King, the most prominent leader of one of history's greatest freedom struggles," Carson said.

In 1985, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, asked Carson to edit and publish her late husband's writings. Carson subsequently founded the King Papers Project, which is producing the definitive record of King's writings, from speeches and sermons to personal correspondence and unpublished manuscripts.

The event Monday will also feature Dolores Huerta, the civil rights activist who, along with Cesar Chavez, founded the National Farmworkers Association. The commemoration will pay special tribute with a multimedia presentation to march participants Clarence Jones, a writer in residence at the King Institute; Rep. John Lewis of Georgia; and singer Joan Baez. (Jones, Lewis and Baez are not planning to attend.)

"This collaboration between the King Institute and the City of Palo Alto can and should serve as a stimulus for long-term collaborations involving local residents and leading Silicon Valley institutions to 'let freedom ring' throughout the world," Carson said.

King spoke on at least two occasions at Stanford. In 2007, Palo Alto's City Hall Plaza was renamed King Plaza.

The King Institute's website includes information on the march, such as a 1963 brochure describing the event; audio of King's speech; and a timeline of events surrounding the fight for civil rights.

"Let Freedom Ring! A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington" will take place at King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave., in Palo Alto, from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26.

Clayborne Carson, King Institute: (650) 260-7502, [email protected]

Brooke Donald, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, [email protected]