Commemorating the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
By J.C. Robinson
Metro Staff Reporter
My last summer trip before the new school semester was attending the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. For some strange reason a part of me wanted to go down there to relive the 1960s civil rights experiences, but remaining nonviolent would be a struggle.
On an early Saturday morning we headed down to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way I met many people from all over the world, from places such as St. Louis, to far away as Europe, with so many people from all ethnic backgrounds. This surprised me, and it encouraged me in my thinking that coming to this march was a good idea.The Anniversary March was partly organized by the founder of Nation Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton. The event started out with various speakers, but the one that caught my attention the most was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s, son, Martin the Third. His voice allowed me to imagine his father speaking his famous speech, on that same platform 50 years ago.
I met an original marcher who attended in 1963; a man named Frank Gibbs, who happened to return to the march again, only this time with his son, and his grandson.
“It was good to see so many young people at the March,” Gibbs said. I asked him what was the march like in 1963? With a smile and grin he replied, “Well, it was not like this, for a lot of us caught hell trying to get here, police, and traveling in packed cars, sleeping outside. Things were different back then.” I was left only to use my imagination because the roughest part of my travel was TSA check points, and my sleeping was very comfortable from my stay at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel.
However, we agreed that the enemy of ’63 has not let up, nor has any plans to; which led us to attend this march. As the march began, I was only three rows back from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III. My feelings and emotions were all over the place, probably from the singing of old Negro spirituals. I heard someone from the crowd say, “This is what Dr. King would have wanted.” I begin to think of Dr. King’s words, “I may not get to promised land with you . . . It’s a dream rooted in the American Dream . . . Tell them I was a Drum major for justice.” My thinking separated me mentally from the March, but put me in touch and gave me insight to the vision behind the Dream, and the beat of the Drum major.
Here’s what I came up with for Tri-C Students, faculty, and staff: The Dream is vision of getting those jobs and living in freedom, while the Drum major becomes the beat of heart of those who are motivated and willing to put everything on the line to ensure that all who pursue the American Dream are giving equal access.