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A Walk with Martin Luther King Jr.
A Day with Martin Luther King Jr.
August 28, 1963
King talks about where we are now (1963) and the direction we need to go. There were many great things I took from this speech, words that gave me great hope for the future. The Emancipation Proclamation was only the first step. It was big, but only the beginning. King states that we are not free and do not enjoy the same freedoms as the rest of Americans. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were promissory notes to freedom and liberty that all men, white and black, are afforded. King said “America has defaulted on this promissory note” It was not what I expected; it told me that I am not entitled to anything and that I need to earn what I have and deserve the same opportunity as any man. King asked us “when will you be satisfied?” We cannot be satisfied as long as we are being treated as second class citizens, though we must not be bitter and distrustful of all whites.”
I went away with a sense that this is the point of no return. We were not to look back and settle for what we settled for in the past. This was a day we took back our pride and dignity. God made me who I am; if you have a color problem you have a god problem.
“There truly is strength in numbers.” King says “we cannot walk alone, their (whites) freedom is tied to our freedom. At least a quarter of the protesters here are whites showing support. They included clergy of every faith, students, blue-collar and white-collar workers, and celebrities like James Garner, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan (National Park Service, 2009).” Walking around the crowd, I was startled to bump into a group of celebrities, like Burt Lancaster, Harry Belafonte, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, Tony Franciosa, and Robert Ryan. I gawked like everyone else. The crowd around the stars became so dense that the police decided to cordon them off and escort them to the platform (Zuckerman, 2009). I felt validated and encouraged to see the celebrities with a voice speaking out for justice. To know I was not the only one who felt violated and injustice because of the color of my skin.
Revisited October 10, 2014
Now that I know that as a country we are continuing to make progress. I felt it was necessary to revisit this journal entry to come full circle. The march on Washington was pivotal point in the fight for civil rights. I guess if I were in a coma for the last 50 years and just woke up I would be amazed at the progress that has been made. I spent the better part of my life fighting for freedoms I never took the time to appreciate. I have seen progress and shed some bitterness. King said “let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
There are still racial issues today as there will always be. Many people have distorted the words of that speech over the years. It was not about retaliation or “getting even” it was about forgiveness and creating a harmonious future for our children. My children did not see firsthand the atrocities I did. Their children will not experience the discrimination they do. Each generation brings progress and hope; as long as we allow it to.
I do see cultural differences between blacks and whites today; it is almost as if we are “self-segregating” ourselves; our own magazines, TV shows, and even our own language. But despite the culture barrier we do come together and “sit down at the table of brotherhood” as king puts it. It is that cultural difference that makes this nation stronger. It reminds us of the struggle that we fought for.
I have been called many names in my day, nigger, Negro, colored, black, African American; but I can say one name I am most proud of is American (no hyphen).
National Park Service. (2009). We Shall Overcome. Retrieved from http://www.nps. gov/nr/ travel/civilrights/dc1.htm
Zuckerman, M. (2009, January 19). March on Washington - and Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech - I remember Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/march- washington-Martin-Luther-King-jr-s-speech-remember-article.