Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the March

Pamela O'Leary, Julian Bond, and Tyrik McKeiver
Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 50th anniversary events for the March on Washington. These are events I will remember as long as I live. I believe it's incredibly important to have events like to this to commemorate how far we have come, but also to make a call to action for what still needs to be done.  I asked my classes at American University and Trinity Washington University two main discussion questions.

If you were in your same position in life fifty years ago, would you have attended the March on Washington? Why or why not?

Fifty years from now, what will the 100th Anniversary of the March on Washington look like? Will it merely be a commemoration or still be a call to action?

Think hard about these questions. Discuss them with your friends and colleagues. Personally, I hope I would have taken the risk, stood for my values, and marched 50 years ago. I pray I will be able to attend the March again 50 years from now. Sadly, I don't think full equality will be realized, and many communities will still be fighting for their rights. I imagine the Latino community will have a dominant presence at the 100th anniversary. I also believe the LGBTQ community will hopefully no longer be fighting for marriage equality, but will still be fighting against many forms of injustice. As our environment continues to degrade, I envision various forms of access to quality air and water may further divide the American public, so environmental justice will be an issue at the 100th Anniversary.

Change takes a long time. The fight for women's right to vote in America began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Seventy-two years later in 1920, women in America finally won the right to vote.  In 1923, Alice Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), but today in 2013, the ERA has not passed and women still do not have full constitutional protection against discrimination.

What will you march for today? What will you march for in the future? I'm grateful for everyone who marched 50 years ago, and those who carry the torch today.

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