Editorial: March continues
As the American public continues to cope the issue of race and relations, the nation came upon a significant reminder Wednesday.
This was the day, 50 years ago, that people from around the country were in the nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That march turned out to mean much for those who participated in the event, as well as those who weren’t there — and its vibrations are reflected in what took place in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
As it turned out, it was the largest demonstration Washington, D.C., had ever experienced and was one of the first such demonstrations that received significant television coverage.
It was a march that had plenty of people on edge, too, since the nation had already seen how violence was used in reaction to civil rights demonstrations. During the days leading up to the march, there were plenty of attempts to dissuade people from taking part in this event. Some were prepared for the worst, and President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order authorizing military intervention if riots developed.
Those fears — of riots and a serious setback to the civil rights legislation that was in Congress — never materialized.
Instead more than 200,000 people, black and white, of all economic backgrounds, gathered at the Washington Monument and headed to the Lincoln Memorial, where the gathered throng heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver what has become known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, one that asked Americans to see that “Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
“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 God’s children.
“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
And later in that same speech he would say, “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 ...”
Fifty years later, the nation continues on that journey of realizing the dream that King spoke of on that day at the Lincoln Memorial.
It has been a journey full of hardships and falls along the way.
But the nation has moved forward from where it was back in 1963 and will continue to do so, because there are still many Americans who hold onto what King and others envisioned on that day.