August 28 is a day to revere. Fifty years ago on that day, thousands of Americans marched on Washington, D.C., to protest racial discrimination and forced inequality in the U.S.
If you are a Baby Boomer like me, you probably remember the blatant racism of the South, where communities had signs like “White only” on public drinking fountains and restrooms. In the North, less obvious, but still powerful, racism determined who could go to good schools, live in desirable suburbs, and eat in restaurants of their choosing.
For those of you too young to remember efforts to extend constitutional rights to all Americans and the violent suppression of those efforts, here is a short but powerful video from PBS. Watch and weep. And here is a newsreel from the 1963 march, providing a very different story—one of triumph for nonviolent activism led by such great Americans as Martin Luther King Jr. Watch and rejoice!
It’s now five decades years later. Much has changed in regard to the laws of the land. Much of the blatant discrimination–like the “Whites only” signs–is gone. But to our enduring national shame, racism continues its ugly legacy in, for example:
- The U.S. penal system
- Some state laws
- The U.S. judicial system—ranging from recent Supreme Court decisions to more local decisions
If you favor justice over injustice, nonviolence over violence, and peace over war, then participate in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. For instance, join the “63 Minutes of Peace” campaign by doing something positive, peaceful, and productive for your community on August 28.
This fact endures: There will be no true peace without social justice.
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology