#764 – Dick Bernard: "I have a dream", 50 years later

Published in 1964, and still in print, Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King Jr is an outstanding first-person view of the year 1963.

Published in 1964, and still in print, Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr is an outstanding first-person view of the year 1963.

Tomorrow is the actual anniversary of the “March on Washington” August 28, 1963 – it was a Wednesday then, too.
It occurred to me that almost all attention is paid to that day itself, in Washington, and that of the then-population of the United States perhaps one in 1,000 people were there.
The heavy lifting occurred before and after August 28, 1963. The event itself was extraordinary, but, like Rosa Parks sit-in on the bus in Alabama, only one part of a much larger story.
I decided to ask my own list to consider sharing some of their own memories related to August 28, 1963: “YOUR THOUGHTS? August 28 is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Whether you were there or not, you may have some thoughts to share on how you felt at that time in history, and how that event has impacted on you and people you know.
Eight people weighed in, including Will Shapira and Peter Barus with very lengthy and interesting perceptions.
The entire file, now approaching 6000 words (a normal blog is 600-700 words, and this one is about 170 word at this point) was published August 28. You can read it here.
I invite you to at least scroll through, and to apply the comments to your own perceptions and memories and application to the future. The long ones – Will and Peter’s – are the last portions of the post.
1) None of us are post-racial, in my opinion, and we probably will never be post-racial. It is part of our very fabric. Saturday we took Cathy’s friend Alyson to see “The Butler”, the movie about the White House Butler for a long succession of Presidents. Alyson came to the U.S. from Antigua in 1982 and is African and white descent, dark-skinned with the unique island accent. We asked her for her impressions afterwards. I don’t think she could relate to the racial aspects. In her island Republic, part of the British empire still, the top government officials are ordinarily black. It is not considered a big deal. She is of slave ancestry, certainly, but the white ancestry is prominent as well. Apparently, at least from her perspective, the American experience is rather odd.
2) There is lamenting about how far there is still to go to achieve the dream articulated August 28, 1963. I tend to prefer looking at how it was, versus how it is, now. In 1963, there was no question that ours was a society rife with racial tensions…the white attitudes prevailed. Fifty years later, it is the whites who remember the ‘good old days’ pre-1963 who are on the defensive. There has been a huge change.
3) But…we are a people who tend to do change, then take it for granted, with the inevitable repeating of history. So, it is not enough to rest on laurels, rather necessary to stay in action, and in conversation about the real issues which remain.
4) Which leads back to the comment that perhaps one in 1,000 Americans was in Washington on the Mall August 28, 1963.
The 999 back home, then, and still, are the ones who will in the long run make the difference, by their individual and small group actions where they live. There is no magic bullet. I understand that President Obama – a clear beneficiary of August 28, 1963, will be speaking at the Mall tomorrow.
He is just one person.
We must be, as Gandhi said so powerfully, the change we wish to see in the world.
It’s on all of our shoulders.
That’s 564 words, about 10% of tomorrows post. I hope you drop in on it, maybe look back once or twice to read it through in bits and pieces.

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