Monday, January 21, 2013

The March on Washington 50th Anniversary

A walk from the National Mall to the White House is a relatively short distance to travel. Depending on the starting point and the pace the stroll could take as little as thirty minutes. At any rate, if  you begin from where African Americans began fifty years ago it would be a much longer journey. On August 28, 1963 from a place of second-class citizenship, a group of African Americans and their supporters gathered at the National Mall for the March on Washington. The march was a demonstration for freedom and jobs. Driven by a force of a quarter of a million people its influence would travel through time to the White House and into history.

As a vehicle of the civil rights movement, the March on Washington carried its message of equality for African Americans from the National Mall on Capitol Hill to the the floor of the legislature in Congress. Dispatched from the Lincoln Memorial, the message boldly served as a notice of intent to reform. Adjoined with a civil rights bill proposed by President Kennedy, it trudged through the bureaucracy of Washington. The moving message prompted the passage of two important laws in successive years, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Impelled into reality by the march,  the landmark laws embarked on a mission to remove the road blocks of injustice that prevented minorities from moving forward. Persevering for decades through systemic racism the enduring statutes went on to break down those barriers.  Consequently, a path toward better educational and employment opportunities was constructed. It was through that path that the course of life for black people changed and the way was paved for the first African American to arrive at the White House as the president of the United States.

On January 21, 2013, four years after serving his first term as president, Barack Obama arrived at the National Mall again, almost fifty years after the March on Washington.  He was there to be sworn in for his second term as president.  He took the oath on the holiday named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the keynote speaker at the March on Washington. The bible used to swear him into office was Dr. King's traveling bible.

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