Posts Tagged ‘50’

The Time is Still Now: the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

There Will Never Be Anything Like The 1963 March on Washington, Again!

I have been "Thinking Out Loud" about why this 50th anniversary time of the March on Washington is so important for me and, I believe, for all of us. One reason: I realize at my age there will never be another time for me when there is such a convergence and acknowledgment of the Black racial journey and its relationship to many of  the tribulations and triumphs of the USA.  We have a way of "paying attention" to significant chronological anniversaries. There will never be another 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which did so much to transform the practice, culture and history of us all. And as well, there will never be another 50th anniversary of what Chris Matthews of MSNBC says was the second most important speech in the nation's history: Martin Luther King's, "I Have A Dream", speech. (I believe Matthews said Abraham Lincoln's 2nd inaugural speech was the first).

Another reason; The role of religion, faith, spirituality (all, or your choice) in the re-shaping and transformation of life in the USA was made manifest by the March on Washington; it is and will be deeply rooted in history. Religion and the texts of religion have been responsible too many times, "used" to exclude rather than include, render some immoral by those who who have not acknowledged their own immorality, and both maintain and sustain the inequities and inequalities of the status quo. In that "Great getting up morning" (The Spiritual), regardless of how your faith views life/existence beyond this life/existence, religion, and we who claim to be as followers of a faith, in some way will be challenged to respond to the question; "Why have I/we worshiped our Holy Script more than worshiping the God who inspired that Script?" And, for those of us who have followed Jesus, we must answer, "Why have I/we used him to justify our prejudices, rather than allowing his life, mission, and ministry to liberate us from them?"

The 1963 March on Washington was like a Holy Pilgrimage, where people of a diversity of faiths and no faith persuasions gathered to celebrate each other, the potential that was ours, and to "Dream" with Martin Luther King about that — that which was not yet, but could be if we had the will and courage to make it, "For Real". The 1963 March on Washington was one of the most significant Interfaith gatherings the nation and world have ever known. What has taken place since then validates its significance.

A final reason: the USA has been able to live and lead the world in believing that we are "much better than the rest of the world". We deplore the current violence in the middle east, while forgetting the violence and the deaths that were the result of our Civil War. Some demean Islam because Muslims are fighting Muslims in the middle east. Were not Christians fighting Christians in the Civil War? We are a nation of contradictions. Martin Luther King at the March on Washington, and the Civil Rights Movement in so many ways, helped the USA acknowledge the gap between our national creeds and our national deeds.

The March on Washington "set the table" as it made visible for the nation to see what the banquet table of the USA ought look like and be. It is time for all of us to sit at that Banquet Table.

"We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now."
James Baldwin

(Quotations are from African American Quotations, Richard Newman, Editor, 2000)


Rev. Gild CaldwellRev. Gill Caldwell is retired United Methodist clergy living in Asbury Park, NJ. He is former Associate General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race and one of the founders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.  As a long-time MFSA supporter, Gil's ministry of writing challenges the United Methodist Church to be the best it can be.

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