Submitted by Vanita M. Banks
Black Women's Agenda, Inc
Vice President for Legislative Affairs
August 19, 2013
50th Anniversary of 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs - August 28, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – August 19, 2013 – August 28, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Many events have been scheduled for the week of August 21 - 28, including two commemorative marches scheduled on Saturday, August 24, 2013, and Wednesday, August 28, 2013. The events have been planned by the King family, the four remaining of the six original organizing organizations, last living organizer U.S. Congressman John Lewis, and other organizations, including the National Action Network.
On Saturday, August 24, 2013, our nation will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where over 250,000 Americans descended onto the national mall and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech from the Lincoln Memorial steps. In August 1963, it was the largest human rights demonstration ever assembled on American soil and one of the first to be nationally televised, to peacefully advocate for the passage of civil rights legislation, racial equality, desegregation of schools and equal economic opportunity. This March was one of the galvanizing moments in the civil rights movement leading to President Johnson signing civil rights legislation in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Following the March on August 28, 2013, President Obama will deliver a speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which will focus on economic equality, and emphasize that racial and economic equality are inextricably intertwined. The Black Women's Agenda (BWA) will participate in the commemoration events. During this week-long celebration, several programs and events will address this century's civil rights agenda: equal access to economic opportunity and equality, healthcare, education, housing and social justice.
This Agenda includes addressing and stopping the gun violence that is killing our youth on their playgrounds and neighborhood streets every day across our nation from Chicago, New York City, and Sanford Florida. This Agenda includes shaping a common national understanding regarding Stand Your Ground laws and their relationship to concealed carry laws, self-defense, gun rights and gun violence. This Agenda includes putting an end to racial profiling. This Agenda includes restoring the protections of the Voting Rights Act, and ensuring the fundamental right to vote in our nation. This Agenda includes ending the pipeline to prison and the overincarceration of African American fathers and sons.
America has come a long way since 1963. On August 28, 1963, the first African American President, Barack Hussein Obama, had already been born, and was two years old on that historic day. Dr. King's words: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" is closer to becoming a reality by virtue of the election of President Obama. But this does not mean that we have moved into a post-racial era where race does not matter. Important economic and social indicators show that today race still matters immensely.
Fifty years after the March on Washington, African American unemployment has escalated to close to 13 percent, and the gap in racial wealth continues to widen. Much work is still left to be done to achieve Dr. King's dream. The BWA is committed to collaborating with our affiliated and other organizations to protect, educate and inform African American women and their families regarding the solutions to these current day civil rights issues.
We have not yet reached the day when Dr. King's dream has been realized, but his poignant words still resonate with hope: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." As the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall stated: "A child born to a black mother in a state like Mississippi... has the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It's not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for".
Founded in 1977 in Washington, DC, the Black Women’s Agenda is a national non-profit organization that generates awareness and support for issues affecting Black women worldwide. Through the development of a social priorities agenda, it facilitates discussions that promote effective policies and meaningful change. For more information on the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. please visit www.bwa-inc.org.