In this post, I’ve compiled a few of the speeches commemorating the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The last video is from the original march. Additional videos related to the commemoration appear in a post from earlier this week.
There is much to love in these speeches. I particularly appreciated the following from the President:
The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance.
All too often, in conversations about progress (or setbacks) in the struggle toward a better, more just and more equal society, I hear people say things like “it’s just a matter of time” before we achieve a particular goal. But it isn’t “just” a matter of time. As the President says, the arc “doesn’t bend on its own.” There is hope for moving toward greater equality and social justice because of the countless people struggling, day and after day, to make that happen. Progress, in short, takes effort; it isn’t inevitable.
P.S. Chris Weigant has a similar take on the “arc” metaphor in a blog post he published yesterday.
- Above: Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
- Below: President Obama, President Clinton, Congressman John Lewis (who also spoke at the 1963 march), Oprah Winfrey, and a 1963 video of Martin Luther King Jr.