Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King had a dream — a vision that was celebrated today, once again, at the Lincoln Memorial. Sadly, while our society has made progress in the half century since civil rights leaders demanded jobs and equality, we are not there yet.
We talked about this today on our MOMochat podcast, and curated lots of material from sources all over the Internet:
Many of us were surprised this week to discover that footage of the speech online is hard to come by. It turns out that the King estate owns the copyright to his most famous words, which makes airing the footage or reprinting the text an expensive proposition. Fortunately, several media outlets recognized the importance of this anniversary. You could view the archival footage today on CNN and MSNBC — and the BBC commissioned a reading by 20 international human rights leaders, from Maya Angelou to the Dalai Lama to Malala Yousafzai.
Since most of the readers of MOMocrats were not yet born in August 1963, it might be nice to check the historic context King’s speech, which The Nation’s Gary Younge points out was a much more radical proposition than we’ve been taught:
…to the extent that the speech was about ending racism, one can say with equal confidence that its realization is not even close. Black unemployment is almost double that of whites; the percentage of black children living in poverty is almost triple that of whites; black male life expectancy in Washington, DC, is lower than in the Gaza Strip; one in three black boys born in 2001 stands a lifetime risk of going to prison; more black men were disenfranchised in 2004 because they were felons than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment ostensibly secured their right to vote.
The Daily Beast’s Jon Favreau is hopeful that remembering the civil rights movement of the 1960’s will inspire citizens today to fight for their rights and a better life, too:
We can make excuses. We can say that we are too busy or tired; too cynical or fed up. But 50 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans made a different decision. Most had fewer rights than we do. Most had fewer means than we do. Some had been humiliated and discriminated against and beaten within an inch of their lives by people whose job it was to protect them.
They came to Washington anyway. They drove, hitchhiked, and even walked—some for hundreds of miles over multiple days. They came from Boston and Los Angeles, Cleveland and Houston, Milwaukee and Mobile. And when the March on Washington was met with anxiety and skepticism by the Washington establishment, they kept on. As one account said, they kept on because “it was never about ‘me now,’ it was always about ‘someone someday.’ It could not have worked otherwise.”
Former President Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech for today’s celebration: Five key ways to protect our great democracy. Watch:
Clinton was just one of the leaders who spoke at today’s event. Sadly, none of the Republicans who were invited were able to attend (former President George W. Bush is recovering from heart surgery). The GOP held their own commemoration yesterday. It did not go very well.