On August 25, 2013, over 60 Ethical Culturists from 10 societies gathered along with tens of thousands of people to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington that included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech.” Facilitated by Hank Gassner (NoVES), Amanda Poppei (WES) and others, our band of marchers was led by AEU Executive Director Bart Worden. We gathered behind our new AEU banner and walked from near the White House down to the rally, overcoming the minor challenge of navigating through the crowd and a maze of barriers.
The march was part of a week-long celebration of the 1963 march and was designed both to honor the progress made over the past 50 years and to emphasize that there is still much work to be done and that the struggle continues. It was sponsored by a coalition of organizations including the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Urban League, the National Action Network, the King Center, the Children’s Defense Fund, and other human rights and social change organizations, with the National Action Network and Martin Luther King III taking the lead in coordinating the event. The American Ethical Union was one of the partner organizations for the march and rally.
It was an historic occasion. We were, in Hank’s words, “bearing witness to our concerns for preserving the progress over the past 50 years in the fields of civil rights and human rights, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision curtailing the Voting Rights Act and the recent jury finding of innocence in the killing of Trayvon Martin.” We shared with all who came out this sunny Saturday morning a dream for a nation “where people are treated fairly in spite of racial, sexual, or economic differences.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the whole affair was the wide diversity of people and causes represented. Everywhere you turned were banners and t-shirts representing different aspects of the struggle for human dignity, from civil rights to reproductive justice to suffrage for all to fair labor policies to a path to citizenship to ending LGBT discrimination.