Today’s Brooklyn Legends’ post is an excerpt from an article written for the Huffington Post by Sonia Grant, Author of
Barack Obama – They Said this Day would Never Come
“Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?” demanded an exasperated John Lewis.
It was 1963, and he stood before a crowd of 250,000 on the Lincoln Memorial for what was to prove to be one of the iconic events of the civil rights era: the March on Washington. However, his question could reasonably be asked again, in 2013, when Lewis would participate in commemorations for the event’s 50th anniversary.
Poignantly, it occurs at an especially challenging time. The demands of the original march for ‘Jobs and Freedom’ remain pertinent and John Lewis could dust off his original speech and it would still sound fresh: black unemployment is double the wider community’s, due to structural inequalities; and the Supreme Court recently struck down and, thereby, effectively dismantled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
It was, according to Lewis, as if they had “put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
Then, a passionate 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis, was already a seasoned civil rights activist — with fractures and scars as evidence — and caused controversy when an advance copy of his speech was circulated. Denouncement from the Kennedy administration for its ‘militant’ tone resulted in two versions of Lewis’s speech: the original one he proposed to give; and, the other, the one he actually delivered.
We are honored to share John Lewis’ memories from that day.
The Honorable John Lewis is the sole surviving member of civil rights leaders (James Farmer, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young) from the ‘March on Washington’ and personifies how much change has been made — its momentum led to passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act; and how much remains to be done, in order for Martin Luther King’s seminal, I Have a Dream, speech to be realized.
We will never forget the sacrifices!
The Huffington Post and Sonia Grant
John Lewis, holding a photo of the “Big Six” – courtesy of Multichannel.com
John Lewis Video courtesy of YouTube