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“March on Washington” — 50 Years Later

August 23, 2013

By Sister Diane G.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Memorial in Washington, DC.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Memorial in Washington, DC.

Some images leave an indelible mark that can never be erased. Such were the pictures I witnessed on a black and white TV in the early 1960’s. Fire hoses, whose force was so strong that even the bark was stripped from trees, were turned on children who marched in Birmingham, Alabama to end segregation. I was amazed to see this violent attack met with a nonviolent response.  This scene was the impetus for my attending the “March on Washington” in 1963. As a young 17 year old white women, I had no concept of how these events would shape my life.

As I prepare to attend the “50th Anniversary March on Washington” on Saturday, August 24, my thoughts turn to Dr. King’s famous and often quoted “I Have a Dream” speech. But I am also drawn to consider the Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred.”  What happens to such a dream? Does it “dry up like a raisin in the sun” or does it explode? Serious question that call for reflection.

The focus of the 1963 March was on the legal, social and economic barriers to people of color. In the years following some conditions improved. However, in 2013, we find ourselves once again faced with glaring racial inequities. Laws and guarantees of rights are being repealed. Now, more than ever we are called upon to stand with our brothers and sisters and demand racial justice for all.

This anniversary calls us to deep reflection and contemplation about our own attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about racial justice and equality.  Christopher Pramuk in his book Hope Sings, So Beautiful provides insights into a world often hidden from the eyes of many. The spiritual challenge presented is difficult but it is well worth the journey.

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Alves Family

7 Comments leave one →
  1. marianne comfort permalink
    August 23, 2013 12:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your memories and what they mean to you. I look forward to being part of the 50th anniversary March on Washington in hopes that that will mark another milestone in this struggle for racial justice and equality.

  2. Susan McCarthy, RDC permalink
    August 24, 2013 9:07 am

    I’m planning to go to the March on Wednesday (August 27). I wonder if other Sisters plan to be there? I’d love to connect. smccarthy@divinecompassion.org (I’m coming from NY.)

  3. August 26, 2013 1:59 pm

    MY HEART will be there , MY HOPES & DREAMS as well as my PRAYER & BLESSINGS ON ALL WHO MARCH ! ! ! MAY THIS AGAIN BRING MORE REAL FREEDOM FOR ALL OF US___THIS NATION OF IMMIGRANTS__DESERVES TO BE FREE TOGETHER!!!

  4. canihaughton@comcast.net permalink
    August 29, 2013 1:02 pm

    Memory is such a gift at times like these. Thanks for re-minding us

  5. August 29, 2013 8:41 pm

    Diane,
    Thank you for sharing your insights from 50 years ago and for attending the march this year.

  6. Marianne Sheehan, Brooklyn Associate permalink
    August 30, 2013 7:34 pm

    Thanks, Diane, for honoring Dr. King with your presence in Washington, D.C. I watched the entire ceremony at home with tears and hopes of a better tomorrow with jobs and justice for all. Thank you for representing the best of Mercy Justice. Sincerely, Marianne Sheehan, Brooklyn, N. Y.

  7. Beth Flannery, RSM permalink
    September 22, 2013 12:20 pm

    Diane,
    Thank you for your lifelong commitment to equality among all people, and for inviting us to both pray and ACT in solidarity.

    Gratefully, Beth Flannery, RSM Philadelphia PA

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