It’s official: President Obama will speak at 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington
By Aaron D. Johnson
It is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic March on Washington. There will be many events to commemorate and reflect upon the significance of his message and aspirations for Black Americans and the broader American society. President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln memorial as a part of an event venerating one of Dr. King’s most celebrated moments.
Some view it as fitting that the first African American President in America’s history will give his address at the very spot where Dr. King said:
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 high-ways 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.
Civil Rights leaders such as Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous of the NAACP said that the event will highlight employment, the tragedy of the Travon Martin shooting, and the striking down of key components of the voting rights act by the U. S. Supreme Court.
There have been no details out of the White House on what President Obama’s speech will entail. According to Politico, “it can be expected that it will touch on issues of race and civil rights, including the Supreme Court’s recent decision declaring a key piece of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.”
The president has been more outspoken as of late about the issues of race that still permeate American society. He made some surprising statements following the Zimmerman acquittal that shocked an un-warned press corp. The President said:
“And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that—that doesn’t go away. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.”
He discussed the verdict through the historic lens of America’s issues with race.