UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker speaks at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker delivered a memorable address at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. This event entitled “Let Freedom Ring”, took place on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. 

Other dignitaries and celebrities such as President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King III, Congressman John Lewis, author Caroline Kennedy, iconic talk show host Oprah Winfrey, actor Jamie Foxx also addressed a crowd of thousands of people. Fifty years ago, the March’s throngs included such entertainment celebrities as Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.


©Tanya Lombard -
Forest Whitaker in Washington (United States of America), on 28 August 2013

“We’ve all seen images from those early days of the civil rights movement—pictures of segregated water fountains, public waiting rooms, movie theaters—and in those amazing photos I’ve always been drawn to the men, women and children who were – the silent heroes. Many remain nameless but their heroic faces captured in so many portraits of the past remind us of their sacrifices. They risked their lives working tirelessly to bring about change… Today I want celebrate those nameless individuals as we reflect on the last 50 years. And in doing so, I want you to recognize the hero that exists inside yourselves – to understand that every step you take around an unknown corner marks your bravery… When we help others become their better selves…we are committing small acts of heroism” stated Forest Whitaker during his speech.


He also recalled that in his travels as a Goodwill Ambassador for peace, he has observed revolutions and social change, he has seen youths senselessly killed, people struggling for food, for a decent home, education, and justice, and he often remembered the words of Dr Martin Luther King - “I have decided to stick with love, Hate is too great a burden to bear”.


Forest Whitaker was designated as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation on 21st June 2011. In this capacity, he works towards global peace building through anti-violent education, research, training and community building. Forest Whitaker is also the founder and president of PeaceEarth Foundation, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace.

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