56 Years Ago Today: The 1963 March on Washington
Today, August 28, 2019, will mark the fifty-sixth anniversary of one of the landmark moments in the Civil Rights Movement, the historic March on Washington. For many of today’s youth, the Movement is an epic tale of heroes and martyrs and has been elevated to mythical status. But for the children of the 1950s and 1960s, my generation, the ones who marched and protested and participated in what would become one of the most successful nonviolent resistant movements in modern history, the approaching arrival of that day evokes powerful images and memories. Memories of a time when it felt right to hope and dream. Images of ordinary people of all races, colors, and religions joining hands marching and singing in harmony on that hot summer day. White and black, male and female, Northern-born and Southern-born. Courageous foot soldiers of all races colors and religions; over 200,000 marched in unity and gathered in peace. First-time participants joined seasoned activists accustomed to putting their boots on the ground and their lives on the line for the worthy cause of racial equality.
Our memories will also be enhanced by echoes from the voices of dedicated civil rights leaders who took their place on the front lines, galvanizing a generation of Americans by their example and by their inspiring words. Words I find myself longing for, considering today’s fractured and toxic political landscape.
It is utterly unthinkable that after all the progress and hard-won victories brought about by the Civil Rights Movement, this nation is now uncomfortably tethered to its 45th president, Donald Trump — a wannabe dictator — whose malignant narcissism is surpassed only by his ignorance. A seventy-something -year-old man who rose to political prominence on a racist platform by openly questioning the legitimacy of the first black president, Barack Obama.
On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, the intruder/current occupant in the Oval Office stepped up to a microphone in his gaudy Trump Tower and revealed himself even further. Doing away with his usual dog whistle, he sounded a clarion call to his white supremacist base. Ku Klux Klan, Alt-Right, White Nationalists, Nazis, and Neo-Nazis were listening, and they heard him loud and clear. They now have his approval and his protection as well as their marching orders, and judging from their adoring reaction to Trump’s endorsement of their hate groups, a race war is now a very real possibility.
As this despicable man continues to defile the office of the presidency and attempts to turn back the clock on hard-won advancements in race relations, I find myself frequently reaching for wisdom and reassurance in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His legacy as our leader and spokesman and his vision for America is beautifully illustrated in his inspiring words. Calming and hope-filled words still guiding us steadily toward his dream.
So let’s continue to honor his legacy and REMEMBER HIS DREAM.
Remember The Dream — Performed by James Ingram; Music and Lyrics by Steve & Stephanie Tyrell, and Joe Sample.
30-foot Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, located in West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., next to the National Mall.