The Obama family at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Oct. 14, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
WH.gov: President Obama, President Clinton and President Carter to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
This Wednesday will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial; a moment which served to punctuate a movement that changed America.
To honor this occasion, President Obama will be joined Wednesday, August 28th, by President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, members of the King family and other civil rights leaders and luminaries at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate Dr. King’s soaring speech and the 1963 March on Washington.
… This event is open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 AM, for an 11:00 AM program start on Wednesday, August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial. Guests arriving after 12:00 PM are not guaranteed admittance. In order to access the venue, you must enter from the east side of the Reflecting Pool, on 17th street, near the World War II Memorial.
Ebony: …… President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to “Let freedom ring” by ringing bells at 3:00 p.m. EDT, a half-century to the very minute after Dr. King delivered his historic address. Groups across the country will also pause to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech by ringing bells at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
“Some people pooh-poohed the idea. They didn’t think it was going to work. They thought there was going to be a lot of violence, and so our committee met every weekand we said, O.K., what do we need to move this really large group of people from all over, to bring them in? We needed public relations. We needed to have a medical corps of nurses and doctors on hand. We needed to have Porta-Pottys, arrange transportation. Once we had charter buses, regular buses coming in—what’s going to happen to those? Where are people going to park?”
As a kid, there was not much I could aspire to, because the achievement of black people in spaces of power and rule and governance was not that evident, and therefore we were diminished in the way we thought we could access power and be part of the American fabric. So we who came back from this war having expectations and finding that there were none to be harvested were put upon to make a decision. We could accept the status quo as it was beginning to reveal itself with these oppressive laws still in place. Or, as had begun to appear on the horizon, stimulated by something Mahatma Gandhi of India had done, we could start this quest for social change by confronting the state a little differently. Let’s do it nonviolently, let’s use passive thinking applied to aggressive ideas, and perhaps we could overthrow the oppression by making it morally unacceptable.”
The bus was on fire and was filling up with smoke. -Hank Thomas
“Separate, but equal” drinking fountains in North Carolina, photographed by Elliott Erwitt in 1950.
“When I first met Dr. King, I was 16, and he came to speak at our high school gathering. They have kids from all over the country come as representatives of their part of the country. So there were a couple hundred of us, and we would meet in groups and discuss politics, and we were discussingnonviolence because it was a Quaker-based group. And then Dr. King came and spoke, and I was just stunned, because this man was doing what we had talked about. They had just started the more publicly seen and known boycotts in Montgomery, and I just wept through the whole thing, because it made something real to me. It was real, but I hadn’t seen an example of it in my daily life, and there it was.”
Shock. Anger. Grief. Confusion. These are all the emotions that ran through peoples minds when a jury of white women told the world that in their belief system, it is perfectly okay for a white man to stalk, attack, and murder a black child. The same emotion that ran through peoples minds when Troy Davis was executed even though the evidence was murky. We’re back here again. How could a jury of mothers not understand the fear Trayvon Benjamin Martin felt when a stranger with a gun accosted him on a dark rainy night for no reason except for the color of his skin? How could a black woman who fired shots into her ceiling because she felt threatened but didn’t kill anyone get 20 years in prison while George Zimmerman walked away with no consequences due to the “Stand Your Ground” law? How does a man who was told to stay in his car and not follow Trayvon Martin walk away free? The simple answer? Sanford, Florida is 80% white conservative gun owners. The other answer? Society doesn’t value a black life as they do a white one and it seems to want to break black people down every single time by saying “hey, you’re inferior….hey you’re worthless….hey the President of the United States is black and you will pay for it every single time you step out of your home because you share the same color of skin as he does.”
That’s what they want black people to believe. That’s what they want society to believe. From Sanford to Newtown they want us to believe that children’s lives have no value. They want us to believe that human life has no worth. That guns are more valuable than a living, breathing, full of possibilities human being. That the color of your skin should damn you for life. It hurts. It is painful. It makes my heart bleed that we are here once again. It makes me scream WHY!!! Why are we here again? Why is it a constant struggle for society to see black people as human beings? Why do we always have to prove our worth every second of every day? Why can’t society see that a black child deserves the same protections as a white child? That a black child deserves the same bountiful life as a white child? That when you look at a black child you see a child first because that is who he or she is and not a thug? It makes one want to throw up hands in the air and say I’m done. This is it. Why should I fight for your rights when you won’t fight for mine? Why should I regard you as a human being when you look upon me as a thing? Why should I continue to have hope?