WASHINGTON, August 24, 2013 – Thousands of marchers from across the country gathered at the Lincoln Memorial last weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 “March on Washington.“ Americans came together to urge action on jobs, voting rights and gun violence.
A host of speakers paid tribute to the civil rights leader who was assassinated nearly five decades ago, and who lead the original march demanding civil and voting rights legislation and to win more jobs, better healthcare, and an end to Jim Crow segregation.
At the original march, Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, recalled hardships he had endured as a Black man who was on a mission of fighting for equality. “I got arrested 40 times during the ‘60s, beaten and left bloody and unconscious. But, I am not tired. I am not weary. I am not prepared to sit down and give up. I am ready to fight and to continue to fight,” he said.
“Fifty years ago I stood right here in this spot,” said Rep. Lewis (D-Ga.), who at 23 was the youngest speaker at the 1963 march. “I’m here again to say that those days for the most part are gone, but we have another fight. We must stand up and fight the good fight today.”
The wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers spoke as well. Myrlie Evers-Williams questioned if the nation had made progress on racial equality and where we are today.
“As I look out at the crowd,” Evers-Williams said, “I find myself asking, ‘What are we doing today? Where have we come from? What has been accomplished? And, where do we go from this point forward?’”
Congressman Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, suggested that the United States had moved forward. “The historic election of President Barack Obama testifies to the progress we have made which would not have been possible except for the millions who sacrificed and raised their voices for change,” he said.
In Los Angeles, members of S.C.L.C. also commemorated the 1963 march.
President CEO William Smart, Najee Ali, SEIU and other community leaders supported the marchers in Washington by mobilizing for a nationwide rally. In Los Angeles, SEIU had over 721 members working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the LA County Federation of Labor to honor the 50th anniversary and push for continued change: more good jobs, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, commonsense immigration reform, healthcare for all, and an end to all forms of bigotry and discrimination.
Najee Ali stated on his Facebook page “Great day in Leimert Park! The LA March! I love my community”. Najee Ali is well known for Community organizing in Los Angeles.
Take time with your family and friends and really study the message that Dr. Martin L. King was said 50 years ago. Ask yourselves is this speech still relative today? Has this moment in history truly become fulfilled or do we have a long way to go? You make the judgment.
Following is King’s “I have a Dream” speech:
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold, which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred”.
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