President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House.Photo: Yoichi R. Okamoto, White House Press Office
Fifty years ago this month, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. laid out his vision of equality for the entire nation. He asserted his absolute commitment to a nonviolent approach to confronting racism, poverty, and militarism.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) supported the march 50 years ago, and we view it as integral to our work for peace and justice.
But too many of the demands made in 1963 are still unmet, and many of the gains achieved afterward are under attack.
Take North Carolina, for example, where this year the state government pushed through one regressive bill after another, rolling back residents’ civil rights in a summer that feels more like the 1960s than 2013.
But thousands of North Carolinians have taken to the streets of Raleigh, showing that grassroots organizing is still alive and well in the state where nonviolent demonstrators galvanized the modern Civil Rights Movement with the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in.
Among the demonstrators at the Moral Monday protests this summer were many AFSC supporters, staff, and interns, including a young woman named Jodie Geddes, a student at Guilford College who spent the summer working for immigrants’ rights with our Greensboro office.
As a community advocate and as an immigrant herself, Jodie has seen how the ugliness of discrimination and ignorance play out in everyday life, both in North Carolina and at home in New York. But a firm belief in human rights and the power of community to overcome oppression have kept her in the struggle for social justice.
She says that seeing thousands of North Carolina residents take to the streets makes her want to keep going: “They understand and have always understood what community means and needs.”
With the anniversary of the March on Washington approaching, you can join the thousands of people marching for civil and human rights. Find out what’s happening in your community to commemorate the march , or start an action in your community.
To realize Jodie’s dream for equal rights—and to realize the dream for the social justice issues that matter to you—we need every community to join together into what Dr. King called “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood”:
Director of Communications