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Bells to ring out marking iconic Martin Luther King speech

HISTORIC: Dr. 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 August 28, 1963

A SYMBOLIC peal of bells will ring out from a Birmingham church on August 28 to mark a half-century since civil rights icon Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech in Washington DC.

Holy Trinity Church in Birchfield will be one of thousands of Let Freedom Ring bell-ringing events across the world taking place at 3pm on the 50th anniversary as part of a global celebration coordinated by the King Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 3pm time marks almost to the minute when Luther King addressed more than 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the march on the US capital for jobs and freedom on August 28, 1963.

His speech was a defining moment for the American civil rights movement and is regarded as the most iconic American speech of the 20th Century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address.

The Birmingham event also marks the official launch of Birmingham Black History Month at The Drum, the national centre for black British arts and culture.

LEGACY: Kianna Blackwood, aged 10, takes part in an event at The Drum in 2011 to mark Dr Martin Luther King’s birthday

The events will be run in partnership with Birmingham City Council to celebrate achievements, contributions and struggles of African, Asian and Caribbean people within the context of their diversity and heritage.

Other partners in the historic bell-ringing event include local church leaders, mosques, the University of Birmingham, Punch Records and groups from the Hall Green District Arts Champions Scheme.

The bell-ringing ceremony and service will be led by the Reverend Canon Eve Pitt at Holy Trinity Church, on Trinity Road in Birchfield, which starts at 2.30pm.

Ian Sergeant, The Drum’s arts development and outreach manager, said: “The event will demonstrate the enduring spirit and legacy of Dr King’s speech within the context of Birmingham’s diverse communities and the universal campaign for equality and social justice.

“It’s also a befitting occasion at which partners will highlight their programmes of events for Black History 2013. It will finish with a short performance by specially commissioned artists interpreting the speech and its impact on their lives.”

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