Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people gathered before the Lincoln Memorial to observe the occasion. And tonight, I will attend an event in White Plains, one of many throughout the country.
These commemorations are important.
It is important to remember an iconic moment in that stirred the conscience of our nation.
It is important to listen again to one of the greatest speeches ever delivered, its majestic words and cadence still capable of inspiring – and still relevant – half a century later.
And it is important to celebrate the positive changes in American life that resulted from the galvanizing power of the March, from the singular example of Dr. King, and from the courage of so many other heroes who struggled and sacrificed at his side.
Indeed, for people like myself, born in 1969, and for those who are younger, it is hard even to conceive of the open racism that dominated whole sectors of our society.
To deny the reality of vast progress is to be willfully blind.
But to deny the stubborn persistence of injustice is to be equally blind.
Employment, educational attainment, public health . . . the racial gaps illustrated by every statistic are stark and unsettling, and serve as a continuing moral challenge. Until we all have a genuine opportunity to stand on our own two feet and achieve our potential, the goals of the March will be unrealized.
Every American benefited from what happened fifty years ago. And every American today shares responsibility for finishing the work. Not some of us. All of us.
I was proud that several members of my campaign team were able to attend events in Washington over the weekend. The spirit of common purpose evident there is more eloquent than any additional words I might offer, so I close by offering a clip of their thoughts and experiences.