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Six Decades After King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, Americans Are Still Fighting for Racial Justice

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Posted: August 30, 2023 at 7:02 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

On Monday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with the children of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights advocates to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, at which King delivered his momentous “I Have a Dream” speech.

However, this meeting, intended to honor the 1963 event that brought some 250,000 people to advocate for the end of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or color, was overshadowed by yet another incident of racial violence.

Over the weekend, a white gunman fatally shot two Black men and a Black woman at a store in Jacksonville, Florida. Authorities found writings elaborating on the shooter’s racist ideology, evidence that the crime was racially motivated.

Two days after this incident, Biden spoke at the gathering of the King family and other advocates of civil rights at the commemoratory meeting, affirming, “We can’t let hate prevail, and it’s on the rise. It’s not diminishing.”

Biden continued, “Silence is complicity. We’re not going to remain silent, and, so, we have to act against this hate-fueled violence.”

Vice President Harris, the first Black individual elected to this position, noted that the “vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. Yet there are those who are intentionally trying to divide us as a nation, and I believe each of us has a duty, a duty to not allow factions to sever our unity.”

“Our diversity is our strength,” Harris stated, “and our unity is our power as a nation, and I do believe that we must be guided by knowing that we have so much more in common than what separates us.”


It was Aug. 28, 1963, when the first March on Washington occurred. During this inaugural event, some 250,000 assembled at the nation’s capitol to rally for civil rights and social justice. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his resounding “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, a speech of particular relevance even now.

On Saturday, a smaller group honored the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, assembling at the National Mall, expressing the sentiment that a country still fragmented by racial inequality has yet to achieve the goals set in place by this first march.

In 1963, an estimated quarter of a million people gathered in this spot converging in what is often considered the most influential demonstration for racial justice and equality in American history. On Saturday, the attendance was markedly smaller, numbering in the tens of thousands. Yet many find the actions called for sixty years ago have still not been achieved.


“We have made progress, over the last 60 years, since Dr. King led the March on Washington,” Alphonso David, CEO and president of the Global Black Economic Forum stated. “Have we reached the mountaintop? Not by a long shot.”

Although the 1963 March on Washington is largely credited with bringing about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many still believe we have a long way to go before racial equality is achieved.
Other speakers included renowned civil rights leader and founder and President of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton, King’s son, Martin Luther King III and Yolanda King, the 15-year-old granddaughter of King.

“If I could speak to my grandfather today,” Yolanda King said, “I would say I’m sorry we still have to be here to rededicate ourselves to finishing your work and ultimately realizing your dream. Today, racism is still with us. Poverty is still with us. And now, gun violence has come for places of worship, our schools and our shopping centers.”
King’s son Martin Luther King III also spoke at the event. “I’m very concerned about the direction our country is going in,” he stated. “And it is because instead of moving forward, it feels as if we’re moving back. The question is, what are we going to do?”


This anniversary occurs at a tumultuous time for the United States, one in which race relations are often a topic of discussion.

Violence against Black Americans remains a reality that many still struggle to recognize or address. The prevalence of book bans occurring in U.S. schools, especially on topics relating to race and gender, along with the dissension over the inclusion of African-American history in classrooms, have also been much debated recently.

Additionally, the overturning of affirmative action by the Supreme Court by a vote of 6-3 this past June means that colleges and universities no longer factor race into admissions, a decision that is believed to particularly impact Black individuals in addition to hurting job prospects for persons of color.

The path to equality may be longer than anticipated or hoped for, but many acknowledge the only course of action is to keep fighting.

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