Marking My Memory Of 60 Years With My Hindsight!

By Sarah G. Epstein | 30 August 2023
Church and State

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the 28 August 1963 march on Washington, D.C. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

On August 26th, I was having lunch with my husband and my daughter who reminded me that 60 years ago, on Monday August 28th my mother and I had been on the Washington Mall with thousands of others to hear Martin Luther King make his 1963 historic I Have A Dream speech.

Here is a picture of that historic occasion:

The Washington Post story of that occasion appears here.

It took a lot of courage in the person of John Lewis, who demanded his older colleagues back and SAVE the March which led to the Civil Rights Act.

Read the story here.

A year later in 1954 Civil Rights attorney Thurgood Marshall won the Brown vs the Board of Education decision at the Supreme Court which ruled against the Plessy vs Ferguson 1896 decision of so-called separate but equal schools to keep white children in better schools from black children segregated in what were much more inferior schools.

The Brown decision did not fully fix the disparity but opened the way for measurable improvement even as reform continued to be contested by racists like George Wallace as Dr King and so many many others fought epic battles for their due rights up to the present time.

The Netflix program you can access below provides the details of the racism that seems engrained in our DNA and must like cancer be excised for our future progress and well being.

In thinking about that time, one cannot fail at my age of nearly 98 to consider the turmoil in racial and civil rights issues which have culminated in today’s troubled political climate.

Perhaps for you as it was for me as a white person who had been only marginally conscious of the depth of racism against blacks, the George Floyd murder and the pile on of other murder of young black men awakened many of us and galvanized what we can pray for, a sea change in racial behavior.

The facts have long been well reported by many including our own government.

Watching lack of GOP protest to Trump is frustrating and frightening since the enthusiasm for Trump is likely not matched by most people, although by most in the GOP!

History tells us that from our inception racial dissent has been constant from the importation of Africans as slaves to the attacks on native Americans.

As the political campaigns heat up for the November 2024 election, our democracy has not been so threatened since the Civil War began in 1860.

The underlying drivers of our political divide cannot be attributed entirely the efforts of Donald Trump to undermine our cherished institutions of government, the media, and civil liberties in his attempt to maintain power, which he continues now to try to gain his reelection.

His criminal actions proving his guilt but still subject to future trials but his guilt has become increasingly evident to more and more experienced prosecutors, one a friend of my son, expressed the view that Trump could end in jail. I can only assume in that case some of the inner circle of Trump’s advisors.

Bottom line: the racist roots of our democracy have put us all at risk of losing our precious freedoms. Those whites who fear being replaced by minorities fail to recognize that those immigrants have always added to our wellbeing. Just as some would deny equity and equality to women, the cynical grasp for fascist power by the Trump cabal risks democracy’s demise.

We are at a crossroads as the USA is the most multicultural country on the planet. We can go forward to ameliorate our differences under law, without hate, racism or violence thus continuing to reap the enormous benefit immigrants and all our empowered minorities have already brought us.

Tremendous progress has marked those 60 years, but the fragility of democracy now has to be sustained by citizens of all political persuasions.

I strongly suggest you access this program on Netflix as it covers in detail the history of racism in America from its inception in Jamestown VA in 1609 to today!

A disclaimer here: I received assistance in obtaining some of the information and references which I write about in this Op Ed, but I have carefully reviewed the content and can confirm concurrence with every point I make here.

Sarah G. Epstein, a long time Washington DC resident, graduated from Oberlin College and attended the Simmons School of Social Work, where she and her husband Lionel Epstein became lifelong collectors of the work of Edvard Munch. Her father Clarence Gamble worked closely with family planning pioneer Margaret Sanger, which initiated her interest and caused her concentration on doing charitable work for many NGOs in that field, including Planned Parenthood, Population Institute, Pathfinder International, and International Services Assistance Fund, where she continues to serve as Secretary to the ISAF Board.

I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr. (subtitled)

John Lewis’ Historic Speech at the March on Washington | NowThis

A look at the history of racism in America and its role in today’s divisions

Mehdi: Fascist Is An Increasingly Apt Label For Today’s GOP | The Mehdi Hasan Show

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