(NNPA) – Forty-seven years ago, our nation was in the midst of uncertainty, trepidation, fear, frustration, anger and unrest.
Forty-seven years ago, we were simultaneously hopeful, dedicated, ambitious, determined and resilient.
Forty-seven years ago, people of all races gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to urge their federal government to live up to the standards and ethos embodied in our Constitution.
Forty-seven years ago, we demanded equal access to education, voting rights, desegregation across the board, just employment opportunities and equanimity in society.
And forty-seven years ago, men and women from all walks of life and ethnic persuasions rallied and marched for a larger federal government to intervene because states were failing to ensure our basic human civil rights. It was on Aug. 28, 1963, that the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. unequivocally summarized the sentiments of the over 250,000 attendees and millions across the country at home when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Now 47 years later, it is time to reclaim that dream.
National Action Network and I invite you to join us on Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C., as we mobilize along with other progressive leaders, clergy, activists and dream keepers to unanimously “Reclaim the Dream.” We will meet at 11 a.m. at Dunbar High School and then march forward in the same peaceful manner as Dr. King did on that historic day.
When most people reflect on Aug. 28, 1963, they often forget the premise of why Dr. King and other leaders organized such a massive congregation to begin with. Billed as the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” the Aug. 28 rally pushed for the federal government to take more direct action in enforcing laws and policies that would end institutional racism and create a level playing field for all people despite race, color or creed. The three-hour long program at the Lincoln Memorial united civil rights leaders like John Lewis and Dr. King himself to present a unified front in the quest for justice. And the following year, the success of that day and Dr. King’s relentless work were realized when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, and one year later passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Dr. King undoubtedly understood the necessity of immediacy. He knew that despite the emancipation of slavery, “One hundred years later, the Negro is still not free,” and that “One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Today, with incomprehensible unemployment rates as high as 50 percent in places like New York, unequal access to decent education and housing, astronomical arrest and imprisonment rates, skyrocketing foreclosures and remaining strongholds of racial injustice, African Americans are still vying to fully realize Dr. King’s dream.
With ridiculous state laws like Arizona’s anti-immigration SB 1070 bill, Latinos and other minorities are welcoming federal intervention to fully realize Dr. King’s dream. And as women still fight for higher wages and an end to discriminatory policies, the dream must still be fully realized.
Join us at Dunbar High School at 11 a.m. as we mobilize once again those that refuse to settle for injustice and inequality. In honor of Dr. King, we will again march in the country’s capital as we call on our federal government to ensure our inalienable rights when states sometimes fail to do so. But we will in no way be deterred by those dividers like Glenn Beck and other tea party members who are attempting to tarnish the legacy of this historic day and our impeccable leader. We will not allow them to hijack the dream, nor destroy Dr. King’s mission.
And we will not give credence to this disturbance, and distraction–for that is all that it is. In true non-violent Dr. King fashion, we will not be silenced.
We again are living in tumultuous, volatile times, but we again remain hopeful and vigilant that change is just around the corner. It begins with laws and policies that create opportunity and impartiality. And it begins with each one of us.
On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King infamously stated: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
Let everyone who believes in justice join us in Washington on Aug. 28 as we RECLAIM THE DREAM.