Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The first March on Washington took place amidst a time of great turmoil, racial oppression, and social divide. This march, fifty years later, also comes at a time of great turmoil, racial oppression, and social divide. Sure, we have a black president in office, but personally, I have witnessed more racism and blatant acts of discrimination since Barack Obama historically took office than ever before in my 43 years as a brown girl on this earth. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe. Maybe the nearly fifty schools closed in Chicago, on the South and West sides of Chicago, (or the black and brown sides of Chicago if you will), maybe that was just bad timing. Maybe the shooting of an unarmed black teen-ager for walking in a neighborhood subdivision, and the subsequent not-guilty verdict of his murderer, well maybe those are just anomalies. Oh, and the “stop and frisk” policy in New York that from 2002-2011 stopped black and latino residents nearly 90% of the time, even in neighborhoods that were predominantly white, now maybe that… maybe that’s just … DISCRIMINATION!!! The Supreme Court erased all “maybe’s” when earlier this Summer they struck down the key element of the 1965 Voter Rights Act which gave the right to 9 mostly Southern states to change their election laws without seeking federal approval in advance. No maybe about it.
The march on Washington today certainly is one in celebration of accomplishments to numerous to even list, but it’s clear we aren’t there yet. We still have dreams that are yet to be realized. You need only to read Dr King’s own words from his August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech to measure our nations’ success and the tasks that remain on the list.
“We cannot walk alone. As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Dr King wouldn’t be satisfied, and we shouldn’t be either. Justice isn’t rolling, it’s sputtering. And righteousness is a mere puddle, not a stream. We have work to do, and so we march. We march whether in Washington or in our own neighborhood. We march for our brothers, our sisters, our community, our friends, and we march for strangers too, because we all are worth marching for. On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and everyday, we march, moving steadfast towards equality.
“We have to stand up and be counted on to make our country more than it is today.”
I have a dream. What’s yours?
Additional work from Miss Lori can be found at
You can also see her Activating to Be Great at