Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a time when history calls us once again to remember the past and plan for the future. But the celebration set for Saturday must be propelled by more than nostalgia.
The gloom that hangs over the rights won through the blood, sweat and tears of the heroes and heroines of the Civil Rights Movement demand that the anniversary be used to send to all America a message that is more than just our ability to mobilize for a march and talk at a rally. It must be a time to consider the era in which we live, when a rising tide is threatening to wash away many of the benefits that the March on Washington yielded.
Even a cursory look at the national state of affairs will show that, really and truly, we are having to fight a battle that we thought was won half a century ago. The gains of 1963 have not translated into sustained benefits. We continue to be trapped in an economic morass from which there seems to be no escape. Our males are the main targets of a system that is more criminal than just, ending up in prison or some form of correctional control, taken from our families and condemned to a life of third-class citizenship. The franchise, an inalienable symbol of citizenship, is under siege.
We have little patience with those who are playing the blame-the-victim game. Nor do we think the victims in this game do not have redress. The purpose of celebrating the anniversary of the march of yesteryear should be precisely to find how we can right the wrongs of today.
One area that comes immediately to mind is politics. We have to work to defeat those in elected office who are actively seeking to turn the clock back at least 50 years – and they are many, here in Florida and in the rest of the nation where ideological activism is trumping national harmony.
Another area is the economy. Black America has a spending power of about $1 trillion. That is a lot of financial clout, if we use it, individually and collectively, to promote causes important to us.
So, it is no longer “we shall overcome” but “here is how we shall overcome.” We must seize the moment and make it our own and not be satisfied with simply marching and then going home feeling good.