Wednesday, August 28, 2013, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. I stood in line for two hours, awaiting entrance to the Lincoln Memorial. While there, I talked to a man who was there for the original march. In 1963, he was just 15 years old. He told me he would never forget the reporter who asked him where he was from and how proud he was to say he was from Washington, D.C.
Once near the reflecting pool, I sat in front of one of the large screens filming the memorial grounds. There, I listened to the singing of Bebe Winans, and his brothers, an amazing background choir, Shirley Caesar, Heather Hadley and heard speeches by Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Rep. John Lewis, Martin Luther King III, Rev. Bernice King, and President’s Carter and Clinton.
When Michelle and Barack Obama walked on the steps of the memorial, the crowd cheered. As President Obama spoke, everyone listened. It was then that I began to wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would have thought. I wondered if he would have felt social justice was still being fought for and if peace and nonviolence were still themes people valued and taught their children.
I wondered, has anything really changed in fifty years?
This March on Washington showed me people are becoming more accepting of others and want to make a difference. People want the United States to be a place where people aren’t judged because of their skin, religion or orientation. I think things are changing, but there’s still a way to go.
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. It was so powerful that 50 years later, tens of thousands of people gathered in honor of his memory and message. King and others before him, made it possible for people of color to have civil rights they didn’t have before. I can’t imagine what that felt like because I have never lived in a place where people mistreated me based on my skin. It’s because of people like King, others have begun to realize even though we’re different shades, we’re all human. It’s because of people like King, my awesome parents and generational change that I live in a world where I graduated high school, earned a B.A. and have lived in South Korea, China and visited Thailand. I’m so grateful for those experiences.
On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, I felt proud of my country. I felt proud of myself. Together, we realized the dream.