Our current Catholic newspaper has memories and photos of the Civil Rights March and gathering at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. It took place in late August. Thus, people are remembering it now. Plans are being made to pray and remember the 50th anniversary, and to see where we are before the Lord and our neighbor in racial equality.
I visited the Lincoln Memorial last night. There were many people there, even at 10 to 11 p.m. The inside welcome center had a film and some photos that recalled the event that gathered so many with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. We watched it, taking in the significance of that protest. I thought how our Catholic Archbishop was there (he did the invocation to start it, as someone very involved in hosting travelers and planners of the March) and I know how Catholics were involved in this protest for social change in America. It was a social justice issue that we had many Catholics on board to bring to the nation’s attention. (O’Boyle went on to do many more things for racial justice. The Black Catholic Office he established to work with the chancery office is still in operation, led by Deacon Al Turner, and he is working with the 50th Anniversary.)
Back to my tour of the Lincoln Memorial…. I was reading the walls of the lower Memorial of all that Lincoln wrote for racial equality. In letters and speeches and Presidential positions on the matter, he campaigned for a better America. He emphasized to Americans how our Declaration of Independence and Constitution recognizes how we are “all created equal in God’s sight.” Lincoln called us to see the divine plan and to honor it. He said that the unity of the nation had been disrupted by the slavery issue, and he wanted unity again: E Pluribus Unum.
Nearby the Washington Monument, I also noticed in my evening stroll on the Mall that the construction is begun on the Smithsonian to African American history. Good. And, with a president in the nearby White House who has African-American Black heritage, I noted that some of King’s dream speech is finding realization here in Washington.