Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

60th Annual March on Washington Continues Legacy of Social Justice Advocacy

60th Annual March on Washington Continues Legacy of Social Justice Advocacy

Tens of thousands of people gathered by the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 26 for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington to push for a “continuation” of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. 

Nearly sixty years after King’s voice reverberated from the Lincoln Memorial to the Reflecting Pool as he delivered his speech, “I Have a Dream,” the National Action Network and the Drum Major Institute co-hosted the anniversary event, where guest speakers declared that the dream of which King spoke remained unrealized and broken. Besides King’s family members, the event’s speakers included actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who addressed antisemitism; Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg; and House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). 

Arndrea Waters King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter-in-law, captured the historical importance of the event in her speech. 

“We are here to liberate the soul of the nation, the soul of democracy from those forces who would have us all go backwards and perish rather than go forward as sisters and brothers,” King said at the event.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, articulated how many of the frustrations felt sixty years ago still persist today. 

“Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King talked about a dream. Sixty years later, we’re the dreamers. The problem is, we’re facing the schemers,” Sharpton said at the event, characterizing “dreamers” as those who fight for causes that further equality and “schemers” as their political opponents.

For Angelyn Mitchell, an associate professor in the departments of English and African American studies at Georgetown University, the march elicited great joy and pride. 

“When I reflect on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I am filled with pride that such a coalition-filled event occurred,” Mitchell wrote to The Hoya. “The March placed issues of systemic racial inequalities and injustices on the national stage and exposed the failures of this country’s ideals.” 

The event reminded Anita Gonzalez, a professor of performing arts and African American studies at Georgetown, of the history of Black social movements. 

“It reminds me of the Civil Rights movement and the perseverance of African American people,” Gonzalez wrote to The Hoya. “It reminds me of the power and persistence of the Black church. It reminds me of how Black social movements have paved a path for so many other social movements.”

Melanie White, an assistant professor of Afro-Caribbean studies at Georgetown, said the event serves as a reminder of the great change that has occurred in the U.S. over the last half-century. 

“Given the particular conjuncture we find ourselves in, namely a heightened moment of conservative ‘whitelash’ against the civil rights advancements of the last half-century, the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington is a sobering reminder of how much, as well as how little, has changed since 1963,” White wrote to The Hoya.

The event occurred in the wake of continued violence against Black Americans — most recently, a racist shooting in Florida Aug. 26 and the Aug. 24 murder of a Black woman, Ta’kiya Young, at the hands of police officers. 

“Today, I am mourning the deaths of Angela Michelle Carr, Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, and Anolt Laguerre, Jr., who lost their lives to anti-Black white supremacist violence in Jacksonville, FL,” White wrote. “I am also mourning Ta’Kiya Young, a pregnant, 21 year old mother of two who was murdered by police officers in Ohio.”

Amid these tragedies, the march motivates White. 

“I would be remiss if I did not mention how deeply moved and inspired I am by the thousands of people who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial this past weekend to continue to remember, honor, and fight in the spirit of those who organized and delivered powerful rallying cries at the first March on Washington 60 years ago,” White wrote.

Mitchell said the event serves as a reminder of the role that all Americans play in fighting for freedom. 

“Freedom is a constant struggle, and we all have a role to play in securing it, protecting it, and advancing it,” Mitchell wrote to The Hoya. “I hope we not only commemorate the March but also commit ourselves to racial justice—we have to build upon the work of the March for ourselves and for generations to come.”

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