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August 28, 2013

Bell-ringing ceremonies commemorate King's speech

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to "let freedom ring," bells chimed in cities throughout the country on Wednesday afternoon to mark the 50th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Ceremonies were held throughout the South in places where the civil rights movement led by King and others was especially hard fought during the 1950s and '60s.

Three such ceremonies were held in Montgomery alone - at Alabama State University, at the iconic Civil Rights Memorial sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where King served as pastor from 1954 to 1960.

"Let us be reminded that the dream still has yet to be realized," said Rev. Cromwell A. Handy, current pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist, during a brief ceremony held in front of the church in downtown Montgomery. The ceremony involved about 100 church members, spectators and members of the press.

More than 300 such ceremonies were planned throughout the country. Most were timed to coincide with a 3 p.m. bell-ringing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and others commemorated the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

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