Daily Meme: Remembering a Dream, 50 Years Later

  • On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people assembled on the National Mall to argue for an end to the economic and racial disparities that have been one of the worst legacies of our country's history. Today, people are assembling once more, not only to remember the people who made that summer day possible, but to examine how far we've come toward achieving the march's goals
  • Who are the people we should remember? Well, there's Bayard Rustin, who was the architect of the March, and A. Philip Randolph, longtime labor organizer. 
  • There's Simeon Booker, the first black reporter at The Washington Post.
  • D.C.'s (nonvoting) House delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was a 26-year-old law student when she came to Washington in '63.
  • And, there's John Lewis, the only speaker today to give remarks at the original march.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. is, of course, in the foreground of today's entire celebration. If you do nothing else to remember the March on Washington, you should at least give "I Have a Dream" a listen.
  • It's also worthwhile to spend time remembering that the marchits leader, and its defining speech have been somewhat warped by memory. 
  • It's also important to remember that King wasn't even planning to speak about his dreams: "Dr. King was about halfway through his prepared speech when Mahalia Jackson ... shouted out to him from the speakers’ stand: 'Tell ’em about the ‘Dream,’ Martin, tell ’em about the ‘Dream’!' She was referring to a riff he had delivered on earlier occasions, and Dr. King pushed the text of his remarks to the side and began an extraordinary improvisation on the dream theme that would become one of the most recognizable refrains in the world."
  • As for the March's goals? Well, we're not there yet. "The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites."
  • But, as John Lewis said today, "Sometime I hear people saying nothing has changed, but for someone to grow up the way I grew up in the cotton fields of Alabama to now be serving in the United States Congress makes we want to tell them come and walk in my shoes."

 

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