On August 28, 1963, the March On Washington took place in Washington, DC, with the speech of Martin Luther King Jr. being the most memorable speech–“I have a dream” reverberating between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.—an appeal for civil and economic rights, and the end of racism.
At least a quarter of a million people of all backgrounds were there for that memorable event, and it was covered live on television and radio.
In the next two years, we saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other landmark legislation and actions, and we thought the issue was settled.
But now, half a century later, we have a right wing Supreme Court, Republicans in Congress, and many state legislatures negating all of the progress made in the 1960s and after.
So we are in a spiritual crisis where right wing Republican conservatism promoting racism and denial of civil rights has become the norm once again!
Today, there will be marches across the nation, not only in Washington, DC, that will call for the end of the loss of the right to vote, as is occurring in so many southern and western states, and the promotion of the restoration of the progress that was made six decades ago.
This is a struggle for peaceful restoration of basic human and civil rights, and the suppression of the ugliness of bigotry that has once again become endemic!
President Joe Biden has made racial equity a landmark moment of his Presidency from the beginning, and already is perceived as being the third President to make civil rights a major goal immediately upon taking the oath.
The first President to do this was Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, promoting the concept of the 15th Amendment, granting the right to vote to African American men, and being added to the Constitution in 1870.
Also, Grant promoted better treatment of Native Americans in his Inaugural week, and is seen as the most tolerant and open minded on that issue of any President in the post Civil War years.
The second President to make civil rights a key issue immediately was Lyndon B. Johnson upon becoming President after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Johnson made the push for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had been floundering in Congress after it was introduced by Kennedy in the summer of 1963. And Johnson went on to promote also the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as the 15th Amendment had been denied for many decades in the Southern states, as Jim Crow segregation reigned.
And now, Joe Biden is pushing and promoting action, as a result of the well known discrimination in criminal justice; and in dealing with the endemic poverty in minority communities; the lack of adequate health care including in the COVID 19 Pandemic; problems of education and work opportunities and housing that persist; the need to clean the environment where often there is massive pollution in areas ignored before now; and also the difficulties faced by women, transgender citizens, the gay community, and the disabled. The purpose is to get rid of systemic discrimination against all the above groups.
One can hope that major progress on these areas of policy can be accomplished!