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March on Washington: 50 Years Later

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"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" - Martin Luther King Jr.

August is usually dead in Washington D.C., but it came alive this year when an influx of social justice advocates came to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. was on full display. Tens of thousands from across the U.S. gathered for a week of events to strategize, march and fight for jobs, justice, and freedom. The sobering message was that many things have changed, yet so much remains the same. Civil rights, labor, and religious organizations continued as the backbone, yet this time the movement was more diverse. The role of women was prominent, as was for Latinos and the LGBT community. The issues of jobs, voting rights, and civil and human rights remain in the forefront on the social justice agenda. The 21st century civil and human rights issues seemed most prominent. The Trayvon Martin placards outnumbered all others, followed by disdain over stand your ground laws, the closing of schools and not prisons, ethnic profiling, and the lack of gun reform. Also, the fight for women’s reproductive rights, immigration rights, environmental conservation, and DC statehood, represented important but previously unrecognized movement issues.

We were reminded by the recent reversal of Title V of the Voting Rights Act, the erosion of workers right to collective bargaining, the worsening high unemployment in black and brown communities, along with the panoply of emerging issues, that justice is never won; it must be earned and won in every generation. Justice is always under attack and no matter the progress, we can never rest. The challenge, however, is to build a unified movement across boundaries around a common consciousness and stay engaged until the Arc finds its mark.

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