CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - United States Congressman Jim Clyburn feels conflicted on Wednesday's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
The high-profile U.S. Representative from the 6th District of South Carolina calls the anniversary of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech a commemoration - not a celebration.
Clyburn says he will be at President Barack Obama's anniversary address in Washington, D.C., at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday. He says he hopes the president will focus on what Dr. King's speech was really about 50 years ago.
"His speech that day was just an outstanding speech. We very seldom get into the discussion of that speech because everybody focuses on the ending which was really a throwback to a speech he had given in Detroit some months earlier," Clyburn said.
"I think that most people really missed the importance of that speech because they focus on the rhetoric, the poetry of 'I have a dream.' King's speech was all about the fierce urgency of now - all about whether or not the vault of opportunities in this country is in fact bankrupt and whether or not people of color were issued a bad check."
Clyburn was an early civil rights activist in South Carolina who worked as a teacher in Charleston 50 years ago on the day Martin Luther King gave his famous speech.
"I'm hopeful the president will use the body of that speech to sound the alarm that we have in this country today about what needs to be done now," Clyburn said.
The Congressman says he thinks inequality is still a factor in our society and cited the passing of the controversial Voter ID law by the South Carolina Legislature as a prime example.
"I think we find ourselves if you just take a look recently what happened in the North Carolina legislature what happened in South Carolina legislature, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Georgia we see retrogression all around us," Clyburn said.
Clyburn was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992 and was the first African-American to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction.
Clyburn is known as the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Clyburn says he has every plan to run again for Congress in 2014 which will make for his 12th term.