As you know, tomorrow will kick off a series of national events here in Washington, DC commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. The original March had a profound impact on the Civil Rights Movement, and it is the reason why so many people know the first few lines of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. But what does it mean to you?
Last week, we had new student orientations in the School of Professional Studies for undergraduate and graduate students. Our primary student body in SPS is an older working professional student, many of whom experienced parts of the Movement as children. We also have younger students with no first hand memory of the movement. Whether you experienced it as a child, or heard about it from your grandmother, what does it mean to you?
When I think of this anniversary I remember that many years ago I wanted to attend a law school that had an impact on social change. I looked at Berkeley, Howard and Michigan because of their connections to the anti-war protests, Civil Rights Movement, and Peace Corps respectively. I choose Howard because I knew that my ability to succeed at all levels was a result of the work of Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and others on the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
The first time that I toured the campus, I walked hallways lined with the pictures of previous classes. I remember stopping in front of the sepia colored tones of class pictures from the early 1900s and seeing the proud faces of my predecessors. They knew that the knowledge of the law would not change the fact that they were Black and disenfranchised. It would not give them the right to be treated the same as everyone else. And yet, they learned it anyway. They paved the roads that the rest of us travel now. We would not have made it this far without them. That is what the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington means to me.
The fight for equality for all people is not over. In some ways, it is beginning anew. But I have the same hope of those on the walls at Howard Law- that I am here to pave the way for those who come after me.
Check out the events commemorating the March at http://www.trinitydc.edu/student-affairs/march-on-washington-2013/. Come with us on March 28th to the ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Check out my blog for more information at www.trinitydc.edu/SPS.