As dozens of students and faculty members gathered Wednesday afternoon at Palm Beach State College’s suburban Lake Worth campus, sophomore Christopher Kennedy repeatedly rang a bell while calling out “let freedom ring.”
Student Farrington James sang a rendition of a historic hymn.
The bell-ringing ceremony was part of the college’s activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
About 60 students and faculty joined similar commemorative events held around the country.
“It was an honor,” Kennedy, 18, said of being chosen to ring the bell. “It was a great honor. To know that 50 years ago that my rights were being fought for in this very country, and to be part of a commemoration of such a prestigious happening in our history is just phenomenal.”
Bells rang Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and at venues around the country. National organizers of the commemorative ceremonies estimated that people at more than 300 sites in nearly every state participated in bell-ringing ceremonies.
Many of the ceremonies marked the hour when King delivered his speech. The local event was organized by the college’s chapter of the National Council on Black American Affairs and the Office of Student Activities.
“It’s a very special day,” said Olivia J. Morris-Ford, PBSC’s student activities manager. “It’s commemorating Martin Luther King’s speech and I think it’s important especially in light of, right here at the college, we have so many dreams and dreamers here.”
The threat of rain forced PBSC’s event to be moved indoors. But a group later gathered outside for a second ringing of the bell.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, James, a sophomore, performed the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
“The song was chosen because it’s the Negro national anthem and I felt it was the right song to sing for such a great man in our history,” James said.