Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It is also my brother, Mike’s birthday (yes, he was born on the day of the March in DC — making history on his own)!
The March means many things to many people. For me, it is about recommitting myself to supporting the human rights of all human beings on the planet.
I attended the 30th anniversary of the March in 1993 and felt like it was calling me to step up to the plate and do more in terms of advocating for women’s rights. My participation inspired me to travel with my mentor Barbara Arnwine and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law (met Barbara during my 1987 summer legal internship at the Boston Lawyers’ Committee) and National Council of Negro Women’s delegation to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995.
That trip was a game changer for me in so many ways. It set the tone for my participation in the Million Woman March in 1997, creative expression in art and writing, volunteer service, and the work I am doing with the Digital Sisterhood Network.
On Saturday, I attended the March with my best friend, Jason Randolph. Throughout the day, Jason and I had a chance to reflect on how much our generation has benefited from the sacrifices that were made by all of the people involved in the civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights movements. Our conversation created a deep sense of gratitude in my heart.
This morning, I asked myself one question: How can I use the Digital Sisterhood Network to deepen my support of civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights?
The answer to the question has not revealed itself yet. When it does, I’ll be sure to share it with you on this blog and my Digital Sisterhood Network site. In the meantime, I have two questions for you.
What does the March on Washington mean to you?
Are you being called to dream bigger and/or do more in the name of civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights?
I love the way you are engaging us in your piece and in your work. Although I wasn’t physically present for any open displays of activism or expression, one did come to bear today through a friend. (and I think the very fact that I was so far removed from Washington added to the distance many might feel as this day approached and the energy surrounding ‘doing something’ evaporates – it also brings to mind Zizek’s comments about doing something: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgR6uaVqWsQ)
We sent the letter below to the President of GW, Steve Knapp (among other leaders at GW), in light of today’s newsletter from GW: http://gwtoday.gwu.edu/university-community-celebrates-march-washington-anniversary?utm_source=gwtodayemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=gwtodayemail082813
Letter to President of GW:
Dear President Knapp,
With all due respect, allow us to express our belief that the main article in our University’s today’s newsletter (“University Community Celebrates March on Washington Anniversary”, below) is, to put it mildly, slightly hypocritical. Martin Luther King Jr.’s aspiration 50 years ago was not only to achieve full Constitutional equality among races, but also a just and fair society – a society that allows everyone – poor or wealthy – to progress and succeed in life. Unfortunately, GWU cannot praise itself by being on the same page with Dr. King’s “dream”, especially because it repeatedly ranks as one of the most expensive higher-education institutions in the country, thus deterring those that might be less economically fortunate from enrolling.
If GWU would really like to live up to the spirit of Dr. King’s words and follow his legacy, it should (a) lower the tuition fee instead of raising it well beyond the inflation rate, (b) stop meaningless expansion into real estate projects that bring less and less added value to the quality of the educational experience fueling the rise in tuition fees and ultimately limiting access to GWU for those less fortunate and (c) increase the drive to channel funds into financial aid for students – an area where GWU seriously lags behind other comparable institutions. This not only would make Dr. King happy and proud, but it would further align with the inherent spirit of his message.
MA International Affairs ’13
MBA / MA International Finance ’13
P.S. As a side note: the same newsletter also highlights the experience of the current White House intern who is enrolled at GWU (“Senior Serves as White House Intern”, below). Again, understanding the real meaning of Dr. King’s aspirations would lead you to see that unpaid internships in the most prominent public offices in the country, and any other location for that matter, are only increasing the existing inequalities. Not only are unpaid internships a deeply disrespectful practice that denies value to work and commitment, they are also an avenue for ever greater income segregation. Who can afford to live and work in the District of Columbia without remuneration? Surely not those poor children that Dr. King’s was referring to.
Thank you John for sharing your insightful words and reading my blog post! Namaste!
Thanks, In the past 45 years. I’ve march in Montgomery, DC and in New York with various organizations. Its always nice to see multi-culture, multi- racial and people from all over the world marching for the rights of others. I thank God that I had the courage, faith and the where-with-all to March. May God bless those who March and those who couldn’t March.
Thanks for sharing Kenneth!