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March on Washington 2013: A call to action

By Olayemi Odesanya, 15 | 8/29/2013, 10:32 a.m. | Updated on 8/29/2013, 10:32 a.m.
Rev Joseph Lowery Photo by Bill Moore

Fifty years ago on Aug. 28, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what has become known as his “I Have a Dream” speech. King is known worldwide for that speech. Because of those powerful words, his perspective on the status of Black people in the U.S. and his many acts of civil disobedience—along with the acts of thousands of other African-Americans—this preacher from Georgia changed society for the better for all nationalities.

Once again, to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington, thousands came out from all over America this past Saturday, Aug. 24 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of King’s speech. Martin Luther King III, the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, supporters, activists and other renowned leaders came out to echo what was said by an invigorating the Rev. Joseph Lowery: “We came to Washington to commemorate; we go back home to agitate.”

Sharpton gave a remarkable speech that hyped up the crowd, discussing jobs, education and the need to end gun violence. He also ushered in a joint appearance of Emmett Till’s family members and Travyon Martin’s family. After the six-hour program was over, thousands of people joined the speakers and others to march, just like King did 50 years ago.

People who had been at the march 50 years ago joined young newcomers, first-timers and babies, who were all there to experience a historic day, showing that with determination, anything is possible. Organizations such as the National Action Network, the NAACP and the NUL joined forces with dozens of unions like DC37, TWU, SEIU, 1199, ASFCME and the UFT.

This event was a great experience and a historical event that I was a part of. It was also the third time that I went to D.C. for a historical event. The first time it was in 2000 for the Million Family March; the second time was in 2009 for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Each time was amazing, and this time again, the whole world was watching with admiration.