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Editorial Reflections

120 speakers vow to continue MLK's march

March on Washington

Persistence and perseverance along with hope and unity are essential for the march for freedom, justice, equality, opportunity, respect and peace.

That reality was repeated by 120 speakers from more than 100 civil rights, faith, union, ethnic, women's, social, political, educational, legal, community and advocacy organizations representing millions upon millions of people. They spoke to thousands who came to the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. Their more than six hours of speeches are available to view on Youtube.  Yes, I watched and was inspired.

The march continues, not just one day in DC, but every day in every community throughout the country and the world.

Marchers met again at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, remembering that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery. After Reconstruction came the NAACP, the Klu Klux Klan and Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Movement brought voting rights, affirmative action and some integration. Since the election of a Black President, there is a backlash of white supremacy challenging voting rights, affirmative action, history education and democracy.

Comments of some faith leaders are featured in Sounding Board below. Many Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, indigenous and other spiritual leaders also spoke.

How long will it take to acknowledge that the toil of African American slaves as well as efforts of many black, brown, indigenous, women and men spiritual, economic and political leaders contributed to U.S. wealth. What is there to fear to have everyone learn about the oppression and contributions of African Americans, indigenous, Asian, Latino/a/x, Pacific Islander as well as European Americans?

Why can we not live in justice, love and peace across our racial, gender, cultural, religious, social, generational, identity, political and economic differences?

The March for Freedom and Jobs must continue as long as one percent of the population own 90 percent of the wealth and believe they are "entitled" to it. With the rest sharing 10 percent, it's hard to keep a middle class. The few with wealth and power try to keep the rest divided, competing with each other, distrusting and fearing each other so they don't challenge those who hold the wealth and power.

March speakers repeatedly called for solidarity and unity among racial and ethnic groups, among women, educators, workers, LGBTQ, faiths and more.

Unity is needed so after progress for one group comes, others know that their rights, freedom and equality are enhanced by working together. When backlash comes, when hate comes, when violence comes yet again, we have the strength of a common voice, the strength of marching together and singing together to persist and persevere to overcome oppression.

Hope comes in knowing we are not alone when the voices of hate resurge.

Hope comes in standing up and speaking out together to multiply our voices.

Hope comes in holding onto the dream, the vision of a world in which all will live under their own vine and fig tree in peace and unafraid because they have marched in solidarity and faith to win the promise of shalom.

"All of us need to be engaged," said Martin Luther King III, MLK's son.

Wherever we are, we are called to continue to march, vote, speak and connect.

Mary Stamp


Copyright@ The Fig Tree, September 2023