Remember the March on Washington? August 28, 1963, tens of thousands of activists on the National Mall: a preacher’s son from Atlanta talking about his dream for the country.
We don’t need a history lesson. Even if we weren’t at the March itself — even for those like me who were not yet born — Dr. King’s words are etched into our minds as deeply as they are inscribed in stone at the base of his memorial. The preacher’s son has taken his rightful place in the pantheon of national heroes.
We don’t need to watch a rerun of that fateful day. We need a sequel.
On Saturday, August 24, the NAACP is co-hosting a sequel to the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice: the 2013 March on Washington. The march begins at 8 am at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Join us.
If this year has shown us anything, it’s that the work of the 1963 march is not yet finished. Texas and South Carolina are sprinting forward with voter ID after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. African American unemployment has flat lined. Our children are gunned down each and every day in senseless acts of violence. Trayvon Martin lies in the ground after one such senseless act.
At the same time, our culture of civic engagement is experiencing a renaissance. In the past month, hundreds of cities held vigils and rallies to protest the Zimmerman verdict. The nation is having a serious conversation about racial profiling for the first time since 9/11. In North Carolina, Moral Mondays has grown larger with each passing week.
We have the numbers, and we have the capacity for motivation. The question is whether we will allow ourselves to be motivated.
So join us — NAACP, National Action Network, Realizing the Dream and others — on the National Mall on August 24. If you live within two hours of Washington, DC, hop in a car or on a bus, or even better, organize a bus. If you live farther away, you are still encouraged to come and be a part of history.
The 2013 March on Washington will be a people’s movement. It will not be fueled by cash; it will only be energized by your decision to participate. We need you there to help us gain a critical mass of voices and prove once again that organized people can beat organized money any time.
On this 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we should celebrate our history, but it’s more important that we never stop making history. Meet us at the Lincoln Memorial. Join us on August 24.
Ben Jealous is president/CEO of the NAACP.