The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Opinion

August 20, 2013

Primus Mootry: 1963 march: The more things change, the more they stay the same

(Continued)

"The votes that (then) Senator Kennedy and some other Northern 'liberals' cast to send the 1957 Civil Rights Bill back to committee is a Southern-engineered attempt to kill any action by Congress to help Southern Negroes gain the equal voting rights promised to them by the Constitution." He hit that one out of the park.

Anyway, the March was a huge, unprecedented success. Although comprised mainly of African Americans, those in attendance were black and white; rich and poor; church leaders; UAW and other union representatives; top entertainers from the world of show business; and tens of thousands of others who traveled by bus, plane, automobile, on foot, or any way possible to get there.

Of course, the highlight of the event was Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. In a section of the speech, at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King repeatedly referenced the Emancipation Proclamation and the lack of black progress in the 100 years since the proclamation was written. "One hundred years later," he said, "the colored American is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land." But that was then. This is now.

So, 50 years after the great March on Washington, where are we? Without a doubt, there has been considerable progress in race relations since 1963. That's the good news. But in a recent report from the National Urban League on the State of Black America, the progress is called "uneven." The report acknowledges the positive impact of various governmental programs and policies designed to level the playing field.

It goes on to say, however, that the black/white unemployment gap persists; the income gap persists; the wealth gap is growing; and that blacks are still substantially found in the ranks of America's poorest citizens. And so, as the old folks often say, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

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