Hundreds gather in Detroit for 50th anniversary of Dr. King's 1963 Great Walk to Freedom

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Thousands of people have gathered in Detroit for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's "Great Walk to Freedom" on Woodward Avenue.

This walk is known as the first major civil rights demonstration in which Dr. King delivered his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech.  He gave the address here two months before he delivered it at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.   

Anyone is welcome to attend and participate in Saturday's event.  Walkers gathered at 7:00 a.m. at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Forrest Street.  The walk began there at 9:30 a.m. and finished at Hart Plaza.

The march kicked off with the Martin Luther King Jr. High School Band.

People from across the country showed up to take part in the walk. Many participants were children in 1963 and witnessed the original march firsthand with their parents. They told 7 Action News that Dr. King would be proud of the turnout at this year's event.

The Detroit Branch NAACP and UAW-Ford are sponsoring the walk as a reminder of the legacy of the speech and its pivotal role in Detroit's transition from one of isolation to inclusion.

The City of Detroit and numerous faith-based organizations are assisting in coordinating the walk as well.

The Spirit of Detroit statue is sporting official Freedom Walk Detroit apparel to mark the occasion.

"It is draped for the champion of justice, it is draped for the people 50 years later," said Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit Branch NAACP – the largest unit in the nation.

Detroit recorded Dr. King's speech in 1963, and then Motown made an album out of it. 

Some high-profile people expected to attend Saturday include Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III, Al Sharpton, Aretha Franklin, John Lewis, and state and local dignitaries.

If you'd like more information about the walk, go to www.freedomewalkdetroit.com .

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