Commentary: Making History... Again

Join the NAACP, National Action Network and others on Aug. 24 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Posted: 08/08/2013 08:00 AM EDT

Remember the March on Washington? Aug. 28, 1963. Tens of thousands of activists on the National Mall. A preacher's son from Atlanta talking about his dream for the country.

We don't need a history lesson. Even if we weren't at the March itself even for those like me, who were not yet born Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words are etched into our minds as deeply as they are inscribed in stone at the base of his memorial. The preacher's son has taken his rightful place in the pantheon of national heroes.

We don't need to watch a rerun of that fateful day. We need a sequel.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, the NAACP is co-hosting a sequel to King’s original March on Washington for Jobs and Justice: the 2013 March on Washington. The march begins at 8 a.m. at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Join us.

If this year has shown us anything, it's that the work of the 1963 march is not yet finished. Texas and South Carolina are sprinting forward with voter ID after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. African-American unemployment has flat-lined. Our children are gunned down each and every day in senseless acts of violence. Trayvon Martin lies in the ground after one such senseless act. [Related: We Must Still Be Vigilant About Voting Rights]

At the same time, our culture of civic engagement is experiencing a renaissance. In the past month, hundreds of cities held vigils and rallies to protest the Zimmerman verdict. The nation is having a serious conversation about racial profiling for the first time since 9/11. In North Carolina, Moral Mondays has grown larger with each passing week.

We have the numbers, and we have the capacity for motivation. The question is whether we will allow ourselves to be motivated.

So join us NAACP, National Action Network, Realizing the Dream and others on the National Mall on August 24. If you live within two hours of Washington, D.C., hop in a car or on a bus or even better, organize a bus. If you live farther away, you are still encouraged to come and be a part of history.

The 2013 March on Washington will be a people's movement. It will not be fueled by cash it will only be energized by your decision to participate. We need you there to help us gain a critical mass of voices, and prove once again that organized people can beat organized money any time.

On this 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we should celebrate our history, but it's more important that we never stop making history.

Meet us at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 24. 

Ben Jealous is president/CEO of the NAACP.

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 (Photo: Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)


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