The year 2013 stands as a seminal witness to history, commemorating the 50 year anniversaries of three momentous events in America’s groping toward her Constitutional promise of freedom for all. This precipice of tomorrow stands between the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act (December 31, 1964), the 50 year anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (August 9, 1963) and today, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement’s March on Washington (August 28, 1963), punctuated and galvanized by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In addition, it is the 150th year since the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation (December 31, 1862). Such an auspicious grouping of historical events denoted in multiples of 50 surely have some significance. Nonetheless, all four events are sufficient for a moment of pause for reflection on the great advances and changes both technologically, geo-politically and socially since their advent.
Today’s historical event of President Barack Obama’s presence as the twice elected, first African American president is the very expression on the stage is, in itself, recognition and attestation of the truth that change has come to America. In the same way, the fact that many of the same issues that blacks and whites, Latinos and Native Americans marched together for then are still unrealized today. Many marchers today acknowledge the gains we have garnered 50 years hence, as well as, the path to be cleared for many who have not yet partaken of the American dream must continue
The President told us a veritable history of conflict, struggle and freedom in America. He laid-out for the world the ways the path to freedom were derailed by excuses for criminal behavior and failed political systemic operation. For sure emotions ran high when the President evoked aspirations of the nation for a people who turn toward one another rather than away. He reminded us that the American Civil Rights Movement impacted the whole world, contributing to the tearing-down of the Berlin wall and that we must strive to be a people who reach across socio-economic walls that divide by remembering to father our children despite the inherent difficulties, for business owners to offer jobs to ex-offenders and for us to see ourselves in those who don’t look like us.
It was a dynamic day and one which was meant to awaken a spirit of involvement and recommitment to engage in a new way in the ongoing struggle for freedom. Reverend Bernice King reminded us, that the struggle for freedom cannot be handed-down, that it is one which is won anew/afresh in each generation. “Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.” Bernice King said to an early morning television audience.