The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lasting and distinctive "I Have a Dream" speech is indeed an important opportunity for all Americans to pause and reflect on one of the most historic and important events of our time. Dr. King’s powerful litany — his dream for justice and equality — wasn’t even part of his prepared comments that day, yet it has become eternally etched in our collective psyche; one of those moments that forever changed us all — and is still changing us today.
Indeed, the March and the speech deserve commemoration. We can, and should pause, to consider and celebrate, how dramatically different our country is today, thanks to the events of August 28, 1963. Dr. King and the marchers unlocked a door that has given not only people of color, but other groups who traditionally have been underrepresented, opportunities that were previously unimaginable. More than anything, they gave us a chance to be who we are: one nation of diverse individuals. They set in motion the wheels of justice that would eventually enable people to feel as if they belong, regardless of the color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability.
As Chairman of the National Board of Directors for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), I am infinitely proud of the role our organization played in the March on Washington, and awed by the impact we have therefore had on history. To this end, I recently represented the NAACP and its rich history in His Dream, Our Stories, an incredible multimedia project by Comcast and NBCUniversal commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March and the impact it had on the Civil Rights Movement. It features commentary from people who were there, along with NBC News archival footage chronicling the day’s events, the Civil Rights movement itself, and Dr. King’s legacy. Comcast and NBCUniversal conducted more than 80 interviews with Dr. King’s friends and allies, activists, clergy, and civic and political leaders in creating this important historic offering, and the company is making it available at no charge across numerous platforms where anyone can access it. What an incredible resource, for its historical and educational value alike. After viewing the His Dream, Our Stories content, it’s clear that Dr. King and the marchers, lit a torch on August 28, 1963 for freedom and justice that has symbolically been passed on to subsequent generations. It is our duty to make sure the torch continues to burn brightly. While we have made unquestionable progress, our work toward Dr. King’s dream must be unceasing, because there is more work to be done. Far too many of our sons and daughters still feel the bonds of inequality and injustice, except in different ways. Underrepresented communities face monumental hurdles in unemployment, healthcare, education, crime and even voting rights. We have to keep working on their dreams too. If we do, collectively perhaps in another 50 years our children will live in a truly unified nation that has, indeed, achieved liberty and justice for all.