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60 years after March on Washington, Georgetown panel says MLK’s dream not yet realized

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Sixty years after the March on Washington, there is still work to be done to make the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream a reality, a Georgetown University panel said Aug. 28.

On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, marking a turning point in the civil rights movement seeking greater racial and economic justice for UNITED STATES. Civil rights leaders, including Dr King, organized the march to call for an end to segregation and racial discrimination, and to demand the protection of things like the right to vote. At the event, Dr. King delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech, challenging America by saying, “I dream that one day this nation will rise up and live the true meaning of its creed: “We take these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Kim Daniels, director of the Georgetown Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and assistant professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the Jesuit University, noted that the then Archbishop of Washington, Patrick O’Boyle, had pronounced the invocation during this event. The Archbishop encouraged Catholics to participate and welcomed participants from out of town.

Arndrea Waters King speaks next to her husband, Martin Luther King III, left, and Yolanda Renee King, 15-year-old granddaughter of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., during a march for racial justice in Washington on August 26, 2023. , marking the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. (OSV News/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

“He called on everyone to live with dignity, justice, charity and peace,” Daniels said. “We know it’s just as vital today as it was 60 years ago. It can also be just as heartbreaking.

Among the panelists at the event was Sister Anita Baird, U.S. Provincial for her order, the Religious Congregation of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, who served as the founding director of the Office for Racial Justice of the Archdiocese of Chicago and is a past president of the National Conference of Black Sisters.

Also among the attendees were Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, one of the original sponsors of the March on Washington 60 years ago and former mayor of New Orleans; Andrew Prevot, Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies and Professor of Theology at Georgetown University and co-editor of the book “Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics”; and Lauren Reliford, political director of Sojourners, a Christian organization committed to advocating for social justice.

John Carr, event moderator and founder of the Initiative, paid tribute to those in attendance who took part in the march, saying “they came together and against all odds changed the nation.”

Carr said Catholics and all Americans should “reflect on what the march meant and what it calls us to do now.”

“Black unemployment: 60 years ago, black people were twice as likely to be unemployed – they still are. Black poverty was twice as high as white poverty — it still is,” Carr said, adding, “Some things have changed and some things haven’t. »

Morial said the recent racist killing of three black Americans by a white gunman in Jacksonville, Florida was a “stark reminder that racially motivated hatred and violence is all too common in America today.”

“Whether it’s Jacksonville or Buffalo, the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue, Mother Emanuel Church, I could go on. How can violence be such a common weapon to affect our fellow citizens? He asked.

Social justice is a fundamental tenet of the Catholic faith, Morial added.

“I appeal to those of you who are of the Catholic faith not to allow this fundamental tenet of Catholicism to be continually diminished to second or third place in relation to other matters which may be very important,” he said. he declares.

Sister Baird said “we are failing as a nation” to fulfill Dr King’s dream.

60 years after March on Washington, Georgetown panel says MLK's dream not yet realized
People gesture as racial justice protesters gather in Washington on August 26, 2023 to mark the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at Lincoln Memorial in August. 28, 1963. (OSV News/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

“We have to remain vigilant and we have to stay — and also have hope,” she said, calling it a “genuine concern” that faith leaders need to address loud and clear.

“I am concerned today because we are not hearing the voices of religious leaders, especially our Catholic religious leaders,” Sister Baird said. “As Dr. King said, you have to have faith. It must be love. It must be the Gospel that frees us from this hatred.

Panelists said that while progress has been made — including the election of the United States’ first black president and first black vice president, former President Barack Obama and current Vice President Kamala Harris, respectively — there is still work to be done in terms of equality. Panelists emphasized that the March on Washington is about equality – as well as jobs and fair wages.

Prevot urged emphasizing Catholic social teaching and providing a preferential option for the poor to address persistent issues of racial and economic justice.

“It is true that over the past 60 years a number of black people have managed, through a lot of hard work, to rise from poverty to the middle class,” Prevot said. “But there is a big exception here: the middle class is shrinking and the line between poverty and middle class is harder to draw.”

Reliford said the country should take a “nuanced” look at its policy, citing the example of a woman with children who is no longer eligible for SNAP benefits due to work requirements if she chooses to attend the full-time school, although this is an investment in his future earning potential. . In general, recipients of the SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, must work about 30 hours per week.

Reliford said that in her work she seeks to remember that “my God is good.”

“It’s a bit of wit and it’s also just leaning on your charismas,” she said. “And I strongly recommend that you look at charisms and what it means as a Catholic to be led to help others.”

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