“March on Washington” — 50 Years Later
By Sister Diane G.
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 Laws and guarantees of rights are being repealed.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.