Lincoln Memorial: America’s Stage (Produced and Donated by the History Channel)


(music plays) It was built as a monument to a national
hero, yet, the Lincoln Memorial has become a
temple to his ideals, unity, freedom, and equality. NEWS REPORTER: “The demonstrators marched to the Lincoln
Memorial… linked arms and barricaded the entrance.” ANNOUNCER: “In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free.” Martin Luther King: “I have a dream today.” (applause) Here, we celebrate our triumphs, mourn our losses, and demand a more just America. (music plays) It took eight years and three million
dollars to turn a swampy section of the National mall into the nation’s newest monument. At the opening dedication in 1922 former President Taft declared it “a shrine at which all can worship.” As was the custom of the time, however,
African-Americans in the crowd listened from a segregated section. Keynote Speaker Robert Moton, President of the all-black Tuskegee Institue,
addressed this inequality head on. “This memorial is but a hollow mockery,” he warned, “unless we can make real the things for which he died.” In the decades to follow, Motons’ challenge
would be met time and again on this national stage. In 1939, renowned opera singer Marian
Anderson was barred from Constitution Hall which did not allow African-American
performers. Instead, Anderson’s supporters arranged for
a bigger and more meaningful venue. Lincoln Memorial. I was 14 years old when I went down to hear Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial (music plays) NEWSREEL: 75,000 massed before Lincoln Memorial to hear Marian Anderson, colored contralto, make her capital debut at the Great Emancipator’s shrine Refusal of the DAR to let her use their hall fanned a countrywide controversy. with this great gathering as the climax. And our First Lady, Eleanor Roose- velt made arrangements for her to have the concert at the Great Emancipator’s feet. (laugh) Abraham Lincoln. (singing “America”) I noticed that the crowd around me was so quiet. There was– no one was doing anything but listening. Just listening to this great voice. (continues singing) It made you feel proud, proud that someone of your race was so honored and had something to offer the world. This was a wonderful woman with a
great talent. (continues singing) (applause) We were so proud of her. (music plays) PRESIDENT TRUMAN: There is no justifiable reason for discrimination because of ancestry or religion or race or color. (music continues) In August of 1963, leaders of the growing
civil rights movement were planning to hold their first National Rally in Washington,
D.C. Their first choice for a location: the Lincoln Memorial. I was 22 years old at the time of The March on
Washington. My particular task was to make sure that people who were engage in the struggle
in the South were present at the moment given that they were the heart and soul on
why we had The March on Washington. I have the pleasure
to present to you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (loud applause) We knew Martin King was a great speaker. Everybody knew that he was going to be good with the crowd. The
question was would he be good with America? KING: Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But one hundred years later the Negro still is not free. He used those things of beauty, those things of freedom those things of
liberty including the Emancipation Proclamation
to say to America, “This is what we can be.” I have a dream. (applause) That my four little children can one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their
character. I have a dream today. King brought them into the conversation and allowed them to say, “Yes, we will join you on this path.” KING: “Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty we are free at last!” (loud applause) America joined the civil rights movement. (music and singing) PRESIDENT NIXON: No president in history has been more vilified- during the time he was president than Lincoln. PROTESTOR: Bring our boys home now! (cheering) Americans are gathering to mark the
opening of their third century as a nation. In 1979, the country was thrust into
crisis when Iranian extremists overthrew the American embassy in Tehran taking everyone inside hostage. The
hostages’ families didn’t know when or if they’d see them again. My
husband was Chief of Mission in Iran when his embassy
was taken over November 4, 1979.
NEWSREEL: Bring the hostages home. That’s been a rallying cry across the nation this
holiday season. The National Christmas Tree remains dark
until their return, and tonight in Washington, there was a
vigil at the Lincoln Memorial. We had just had the first family meeting at the State Department and there was a lot of anger shown there and I thought “Let’s get
the families together and have kind of a Christmas ceremony for
them remembrance of them and show them our
support and love.” So, we picked the Lincoln Memorial
because that is a symbol of freedom in so many of our minds. NEWSCASTER: “It was organized by Mrs. Penne Laingen,
wife of the American charge d’affaires still being held in Tehran.” And then one of the sons of a hostage,
Mark Schaefer, found this Lincoln quotation, “Those who
deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and cannot
under a just God long retain it.” And we thought, “that was just perfect.” This is the time now, during the Christmas reason where I think they should let our people
go. I do think the hostage crisis was instrumental in uniting this country
as never before at least in the present era and
particularly after Vietnam, we were a very divided country after
Vietnam, unfortunately, and this was a time when we
did band together. (music plays) (music plays) (music plays) PRESIDENT OBAMA: Directly in front of us is a pool that
still reflects the dream of a king. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, that’s the man who in so many ways made this day possible. (music continues)

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