There will be two marches to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28th 1963, both ending at the Lincoln Memorial (links go to the march’s website):
- Saturday August 24th 2013: Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally “Jobs, Justice & Freedom”.
- Wednesday August 28th 2013: March for Jobs and Justice
The first march is expected to be the large one. It is conceived in the same spirit as the 1963 march. Like it, it has the support of civil rights and labour organizations (some of the same ones, in fact). Feminist and LGBT organizations will take part too. Martin Luther King, III, Dr King’s oldest son, will speak. So will John Lewis, the only speaker at the 1963 march who is still alive (back then he was 23, the leader of SNCC). Emmett Till’s family is expected to be there (the 1963 march was held on the eighth anniversary of his lynching).
Conveners: Martin Luther King, III & Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network Co-Convened by: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, APRI, HRC, LCCR, NAACP, NBJC, NCBW, NCNW, NEA, NOW, NUL, NCBCP, SCLC, SEIU, UAW, The King Center, National African American Clergy Network, CWBI and others.
The National Action Network’s website says:
On Saturday, August 24, 2013 we will gather at 8AM at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC to stand together against the recent attack on voter rights, against Stand Your Ground and racial profiling, and to continue to raise awareness on unemployment, poverty, gun violence, immigration, gay rights and other critical issues affecting our nation.
The second march is more about marking the 50th anniversary. President Obama will speak in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Presidents Carter and Clinton will be there. John Lewis will speak at that one too. At 3.00pm Eastern Time (19.00 GMT), bells will ring across the country to mark when Dr King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
It’s part of my generation’s formative memory, and it’s a good time for us to do some reflection. Obviously, after the Trayvon Martin case, a lot of people have been thinking about race, but I always remind people — and, in fact, I have a copy of the original program in my office, framed — that that was a march for jobs and justice; that there was a massive economic component to that.
The Global Freedom Festival will take place in the days between the two marches, four days of “education, entertainment and activities” focused on the “freedoms to participate in government, prosper in life and peacefully co-exist.”
Six museums will have exhibits marking the 50th anniversary.
The 50th anniversary comes at a time of both great progress and troubling regress: on the one hand America has its first black president, yet in just the past two months we have seen the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Zimmerman verdict. John Lewis says of the Zimmerman verdict:
I don’t think anything disturbed me more since the murder of Emmett Till. And I remember when Emmett Till was murdered, lynched, on 28 August 1955.