Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington: "The jobs part of it may be tougher than the freedom..."

Crowd gathers for Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial National Memorial, August 28, 1963 from PBS.org

Fifty years ago, near the end of a hot August day, Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech during what is now known as "The Great March on Washington."

Writing in the New York Times on August 28, 1963 James Reston notes "the demonstration was not designed merely as political agitation for the passage of President Kennedy's civil rights legislation, but was officially a 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.' The jobs part of it may be tougher in the end than the freedom..."

Today, Mr. Reston's words seem prescient.

Black unemployment is twice that of whites, just as it was in Mr Reston's 1963 article. And income disparity is growing. Citing a Pew Research study, the Economist reports that the bursting of the housing bubble took a greater toll on black families than whites, reducing their median wealth by 53% between 2005-2009 (when adjusted for inflation) compared to 16% for whites.

A question for you, dear reader. While there is much to celebrate in terms of political equality on this 50th anniversary, economic progress has lagged. Why do you think the economic fight has proven to be so much tougher than the political one?
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Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.