Thursday, September 5, 2013
March on Washington showed strength of the American spirit
On August 28, thousands of Americans gathered on the National Mall in Washington to commemorate a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. Exactly 50 years ago, an earlier generation had converged on the same lawn as part of the peaceful March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – one of the most iconic events of the civil rights movement in America.
On that historic day, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his momentous “I Have a Dream” address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Considered one of the most influential speeches in history, King’s impassioned call for freedom and justice still reverberates today.
Much has changed in Mississippi and across the nation in the past five decades, including the end of policies that condoned discrimination and segregation. Although racial problems and racism still exist in corners of society, the sweeping reforms of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 marked an important new chapter in racial reconciliation and healing. We are stronger today because brave Americans were determined to leave our country better than they found it.
Remembering Medgar Evers
One of these brave Americans was Mississippi’s Medgar Evers, whose leadership and untimely death invigorated a national call for action. Earlier this summer, I had the great privilege of taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honor Evers’s life and profound influence on the civil rights movement.
In my remarks, I noted that a young Sgt. Evers – after fighting for his country in France and Germany during World War II – had returned to his native state only to find that his government would not fight for him. Rather than bow to danger, he worked tirelessly to promote equality and justice. Half a century after his assassination, we continue to learn from his example, and we are indebted to him for his acts of courage.
Mississippi State’s ‘Game of Change’
Sports also played a role in bringing about positive change. In 1963, the same year as Evers’s death and the March on Washington, the men’s basketball team at Mississippi State University defied state orders and competed against the racially integrated team at Loyola University, Chicago. The matchup, remembered as the “Game of Change,” was a seminal moment in breaking down racial barriers. In July, Sen. Thad Cochran and I joined our Senate colleagues from Illinois in introducing a resolution to honor the teams’ bravery and sportsmanship.
A Growing Legacy
We can all be thankful for the example set by the March on Washington and for the progress it spearheaded on behalf of equality and opportunity. Despite immense struggles, Mississippi today is home to more African American elected officials than any other state in the country. I am hopeful that the Senate vote on the nomination of Yazoo City native Debra Brown will add to this legacy in the coming weeks. If confirmed, Brown would become the first African American female federal district judge in Mississippi.
The defining civil rights moments commemorated this year remind us of a poignant but powerful time in American history. Looking back is not always easy, but we can be proud of the changes we have made and how far we have come.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
The South Reporter
P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page