NASHUA — People prayed, sang, rang bells and shared memories Wednesday afternoon as they marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during a 1963 Civil Rights march in Washington.
At the Nashua Public Library, a small group gathered to watch the film "Selma, Lord, Selma," an account of the voting rights march in Alabama. On the other side of the city, at Christ the King Lutheran Church, people watched a recording of King's famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. At the end of the video, as King chanted "Let Freedom Ring," the group, which borrowed bells from the church's hand bell choir, joined people throughout the United States and rang bells in celebration of King and the speech.
"What a gift Dr. King is to us," said Rev. Matthew Tingler, pastor of Christ the King Church. "The speech is an amazing sermon, an ever-rolling stream of justice and righteousness to inspire us all to that dream."
For some who took time out on Wednesday to honor King, there are still plenty of challenges ahead.
Retired Presbyterian minister Tom Woodward, who was ordained around the time of King's speech, said the Civil Rights movement had triggered important changes, but he questioned where Americans go from here.
"Where are we today in terms of having a dream?" asked Woodward, who said there is still so much hunger, economic inequality and injustice taking place everywhere.
"I have a dream," he said. "A dream of another world, a better world."