The March on Washington, Dr. King's Truths, & the Urgency of Now
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go
down in history as the greatest demonstration
for freedom in the history of our nation.”
There’s just something about the first line of this speech. Anytime I read it, I also hear Dr. King’s voice in my head (you can listen to the full speech here, thanks to NPR).
On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 demonstrators participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. The high point of the day came when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the podium and delivered his iconic and famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1964 were results of the March on Washington, and Dr. King’s dream continues to be one that is taught in schools all across our country.
The March had several precedents and did not just happen as the result of people banning together a month before. This was thoroughly planned. It was previously met with obstacles. Several marches came before it. Various organizations, celebrities, and prominent leaders participated. But you know, after August 28, 1963, it seems like people freeze Dr. King in time. The last almost five years of his life are not discussed like they should be, and Dr. King’s radical legacy is not entirely taught. Dr. King’s approval ratings were never high and white Americans started “loving” him more after his death than they did when he was alive.
In episode 7 of my podcast, I provide some history about what led to the March on Washington, I read a few excerpts from “I Have a Dream", I discuss the last [almost] five years of Dr. King’s life that is too often omitted from his legacy, and how the “urgency of now” is felt today like it was in 1963.
This week is the 56th anniversary of Dr. King’s iconic and profound “I Have a Dream” speech, and in a society that often quotes him and uses him as a moral compass, it is important to recognize him as the radical leader he was. We must stop romanticizing history and placing people in a neatly wrapped box that is appealing to white supremacy culture.
To hear much more that I have to say about this topic and to become more informed, tune in and listen to my podcast episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more! Dr. King will always be one of the greatest leaders our country has ever seen and he will continue to span the history books as a voice for civil rights.