This week, Trinity students, faculty and staff are sharing their reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the ongoing quest for justice and freedom for all. Send me your comments by using the “comment” link below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This comment from Kimberly McManus, Director of Disability Support Services:
“I also attended the Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally “Jobs, Justice & Freedom” on Saturday, August 24, 2013. It was such an incredible experience to see so many thousands of people of all races and ages come together for one cause. Having been born and raised in South Carolina, I first experienced racism at the age of two. I will never forget asking my parents why people would want to kill our puppy. My father and mother explained that some people think we are different because of our skin color, so they think that they can harm others. But it’s not everyone, my father continued. He said, “We’ll get another puppy….and if they kill it, we’ll get another. We’ll just keep coming back.” Even at such a young age, I have never forgotten what happened nor what my father said about being resilient. At the age of five, my kindergarten teacher was blatantly racist against black children in her class, especially me as I was a gifted child….
“Some thirty years later, I knew that I would have to bear the crowds and make my way to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march. Although I wasn’t born yet when the first march was held, I realize that because of Dr. King and the movement, I am the first generation from my family who didn’t have to pick cotton. I was given a chance to use my God-given talents to do well in school, in spite of teachers who were racist and didn’t want to see me succeed. There were still far more who also believed in Dr. King’s dream and realized that little black girls and little white boys could sit in a classroom, gain knowledge, and share experiences. For that, I am grateful for Dr. King having a dream. I am thankful that I now have the opportunity to work in an educational environment where color is not an issue….where I can maximize the strengths of students from little hamlets, small towns, and even far-away countries that I might never travel to because I was given a chance to realize my dream… Thanks, Dr. King…”
This comment from Adjunct Professor Deborah Sanchez:
“Over the weekend, I went with my husband, Jorge and my daughter, Paloma to walk Dr. King’s march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. There was a booth just outside the MLK Memorial which encouraged young people to create buttons and think about what they would march for today, 50 years later. Since my daughter is only 10 months old, we made a button together; I traced her little hand on one side and wrote “I march for access to higher education” on the other side. It is an honor to work at Trinity, a university committed to providing access to and ensuring success for students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to attend higher education. I hope that my daughter, and her generation, live out Dr. King’s desire that we take on the struggles of others as our own.”
From a student Kimberly Jones:
“I wasn’t alive 50 years ago, so I have to reflect and depend on the lives and stories of relatives that were alive at the time. In 50 years, it is important to say that some black people are still suppressed and racially discriminated against. It is important to say that black people are still socially, emotionally, and physically repressed. It is important to say that civil rights issues are still relevant and being addressed every day. The racial discrimination taste still lingers long after 1963 March on Washington. However we have come a long way. Blacks are a lot more successful. We are smart, talented, influential, and strong. We have arrived but we still have so far to go.”
This reflection and photo from Beverly Lucas, Writing Specialist:
“The experience of the March on Washington was absolutely phenomenal! Trinity students, staff and I ventured out on the subway at 8:00 am in order to arrive early to clear the checkpoint and head for the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. On our journey, we met individuals from all over the country filled with excitement and in anticipation of what the day’s activities would be. The conversations of the crowd focused on poverty, the Disability Act, equal rights for gays and lesbians, Trayvon Martin – everyone had an opinion, but everyone was united. Spirits were not suppressed by the rain showers as I witnessed strangers sharing umbrellas…There were many climactic moments and moments of silence as we listened intently to each speaker. Their voices and messages were powerful and clear. And no words could describe the witness to listening to the words of presidents Jimmie Carter, Bill Clinton and our current President Barak Obama – it was indescribable! We walked away knowing that we have been commissioned for action. We walked away thinking about what contribution we can make to play our part in this movement. I can only imagine what the experience was like in 1963, but I am grateful to have participated in the celebration march in 2013. To witness President Barak Obama deliver a speech on the steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, “I have a dream” is, within itself is a dream. Yes, as a nation, we have made many strides, but there is yet much work to accomplish….the movement continues…”
This reflection and photo are from Vivian Wilds ’01 who is a member of our staff in Career Services: (That’s Vivian and her husband Franklin with Nancy Pelosi ’62 at a Democratic Party event in DC)
“The 50th Year Anniversary of the March on Washington has become a time to reflect on the many changes I have witnessed in my life time. Being a native of South Carolina and growing up in a small southern town, I saw blatant discrimination practices first hand. Most neighborhoods were separated into segregated sections around the town. The areas that were integrated were those out of the city limit where blacks had properties which most of the time were border line with whites. In those neighborhoods, white and blacks were neighbors, but they did not socialize together. The schools were segregated, the same as most eating places were, and the one country club in the town was established for “whites only.” Blacks had their own little eatery places and when I lived there, no fast food places like we have today were available. Mostly, blacks ate at home. Today, as I reflect back, that was a good thing because families were close knit and more respectful of each other. People sat around the table in their homes and enjoyed talking; joking and parents taught children valuable skills.
“Back to segregation; the two movie theaters in the town were divided so that blacks sat in the balcony and the whites sat in the lower auditorium. This reminds me of how my father would try to talk me and my siblings out of going to the movies. I’ll pass on what he said about it. We saw movies like “The Lone Ranger and Tonto; westerns were big back in the day.
“The other major role in society was the segregation of churches. I remember one Sunday that the news around town was that a black man was arrested for attempting to attend a white Baptist church. Today, that same church holds interdenominational services to celebrate the Martin Luther King birthday celebration. Now, that is what I call progress. Today, anyone, no matter what race creed or color can attend that church and feel welcome.
“In 1963, I was unable to attend the Historic March on Washington, but for this 50th Anniversary, I was eager to meet with members of the DC Democratic Women’s club at the Metro by 7:30am, where afterward we would join the DC Statehood group who was holding a rally at the DC War Memorial before the march to the Lincoln Memorial. I’m sure I must have walked 25 miles on Saturday, and really enjoyed the whole time I spent at the event.
“As a flashback to the march in 1963, I remembered my sister commenting on how a hush came over the crowd once Rev. King began his speech. She said, “People were so quiet until you could have heard birds chirping.” Now, I’m going to fast forward to August 23, 2013, the crowd was somewhat in a celebratory mood, kind of like a reunion. Of course, cell phones were turn on and being used. People were distributing water and seemed to be anxious about where they would meet up later. Even with the pressing issues of today: high unemployment, unaffordable housing, discrimination against women, gays, lesbians and whoever, combined with the lack of education for many people in this country, and add in voter’s rights suppression and the immigration reform situation; we are facing a sad state of affairs. Although, things have improved, yes, we do have a black president, but the challenge to our nation is to keep Martin Luther Kings’ dream alive. There is still much unfinished business to handle.”
This comment and photos are from Courtney Wylie, graduate student in EDU Counseling:
“This morning I attended the Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally “Jobs, Justice & Freedom” at the Lincoln Memorial. It was organized and sponsored by Martin Luther King III, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. I felt that even though this nation has made great strides since 1963, that in 2013 our country is still struggling with voter rights, Stand Your Ground and racial profiling. And we have to increase awareness and encourage advocacy for unemployment, labor laws, poverty, education, gun violence, immigration, gay rights and other issues. In the midst of struggles, we need to stand and step together towards resolution.
“It was also great seeing people of all races and ethnicities at the Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally “Jobs, Justice & Freedom”. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream was not for blacks, it was for America. He visioned a nation where everyone stood together as equals and could resolve any and all issues in a climate of respect, compassion and peace.”
“As an instructor, I recognize the importance of diversity and how the combination of all cultures and race strengthen society. It is amazing that it took so long to acknowledge the value of all people. Often God speaks through others. Maybe Dr. King’s dream was greater than we truly realize.”
From MBA Student Danielle Williams:
“During this week of commemoration and reflection I have given thought to Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech and the meaning it has in my life. His speech opened the door for many of the things I have today such as education, the right to vote, and pursuing any career I want. More importantly his speech and the marchers 50 years ago paved the way for me to have a voice, which I have taken for, granted. It is a voice that I must use to motivate generations after me, a voice I must use to fight the injustices within my community, and it is a voice I must use to do my part for jobs, justice, and freedoms of others. Every generation is supposed to carry the torch and I am saddened to think who will carry the torch for Trayvon Martin, the youth of Chicago fighting to survive gang violence, the impoverished within our society if I continue to do nothing. For me its time to take a stand and do what I can to make a difference one step at a time.”
From Dr. Hugh Dempsey, Vice President for Development:
“As someone who was growing up during the turbulent late 1960s, I was a stranger to the discrimination and hatred that fanned the flames of prejudice. I was raised in a community far from diverse, in a home insulated from racial strife. I was blessed to be raised by Irish parents who were open and educated and aware of the reality of prejudice. But we were ignorant about what to do, how to speak out or how to stare down those who dared utter a derogatory comment. This insulation did not prepare me for the startling reality that raw hatred and prejudice existed on my sleepy college campus and within my dormitory. It was the death of Martin Luther King that uncovered that ugly fact for all to see and divided the student body. In hindsight, I know I should have been stronger, more in-tune and more ready to march. Instead, I served in student government leadership and tried to redirect the unwarranted punishments for protestors and live my Faith and accept all as myself, embracing those often left out and hoping that my caring signaled my true intent. That is why I chose teaching and chose to do it in the harshest economic climate in our area, to try to make things balance. I believe Martin Luther King was marching for all of us, the hungry rich and the hungry poor. He knew us all. I am so proud to be at Trinity, to know its students and to realize its promise.”
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