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NOW...How Far Have We Really Come? | 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington
by V. Nona Ogunsula
August 29, 2013

Part II of II

We have come a great distance in this country in the 50 years, but we still have  a great distance to go before we fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. --Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), August 28, 2013

Yesterday and this past Saturday, some 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech, two of his children that he referred to in the speech, together with other civil rights organizations and tens of thousands of individuals celebrated moments in history that helped America to come to grips with words from its 1776 Declaration of Independence,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[1]

On Saturday, August 24th, Martin King III and his sister, Rev. Bernice King, along with Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and co-convener of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, and a host of other civil rights organizations marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the newly erected Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial to remember and honor what happened on August 28, 1963. (Click here to see pictures from the 8/24/13 March On Washington)

Fifty years to the day of the actual 1963 March On Washington, many of the “march veterans” and foot soldiers who had participated in the original march locked arms with college students, and led thousands down the original path to the Lincoln Memorial to hear President Barack Obama, John Lewis and others speak about this watershed moment in the history of the Civil Rights movement. President Barack Obama told those assembled on August 28, 2013,

“And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed.”

Even as we celebrate the second term of an African American President of the United States and the record numbers of elected officials comprised of women and people of color, we struggle with Trayvon Martin's death in Sanford, Florida, the senseless murders of people, especially young African Americans, in my community of Prince George's County, Maryland and cities like Chicago, Illinois and Oakland, California.  The rate of unemployment and poverty in our communities alert us to the fact that we must be vigilant against the ills that threaten our very existence. We must also organize and contend for King's Dream and the American dream. Today we look at some key statistics like unemployment, education, homeownership and income, which are indicative of the state of Black America both then and now, and humbly offer a few solutions to improve the state of Black America. 



[1] Declaration Of Independence, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,



*For a more comprehensive view of Black America, please see the National Urban League's report, 2013 State of Black America: Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America,

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