Martin Luther King

After watching the commemorative speeches for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington I was conflicted. I had a lot of thoughts about what I witnessed. I asked two gentlemen whom I’ve had great dialogue with on history as well as political and social issues to weigh in on some questions I had. These gentlemen are @OG_Humble_One and @wu_youngAOM.

1. Who was your favorite speaker and why?

Wu: I would have to go with a combination of both Representative Lewis and President Carter. It was good to see men of their ages speak candidly about their experiences. I will always maintain that there is no better way to devour history than to hear it from someone who lived through it. I take this view because my parents were children of the depression and not baby boomers. Lewis and Carter’s firsthand accounts just stuck with me.

OG: My favorite speaker was John Lewis. I feel that out of all the speakers he put things in perspective.  He spoke on how things were and how things are now. He also touched on current struggles.  Having someone speak that was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement and had a visible role in the original MOW helped me to have a deeper understanding of the CRM.

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Tunde: My favorite speaker was Rep. John Lewis. At first I was moved simply because of who he was and what he has done in the name of civil rights. His personal sacrifices and what he had to do to be where he is. Outside of Rep. Bobby Rush my favorite congressman is Rep. John Lewis. Emotions aside he was my favorite speaker that day because he not only used the day to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the impact of what the March on Washington was about but he spoke on the ills of our society today. He stated plainly that racism remains embedded into American society today, which I agree with. He named issues around racism that need to be addressed which included Stop and Frisk in New York City, mass incarceration, the George Zimmerman trial, immigration policies, poverty and changes to voting rights. I would have loved to see how far his speech would have gone if he wasn’t forced to edit it.

2. Apparently two young speakers were cut from speaking last minute. What do you think of the exclusion of younger people from the March’s event?

Wu: This was a definite red flag for me due to the fact that it illustrates the divide between the generations who fought the hard fights from the beginning until the early 1970’s. It always seemed to me that the older folks just handed their proverbial weapons over to the next generation and didn’t bother to train them but often ask the same generation to sit by and be quiet when we speak on “the way things were”.  Sure, older generations love to talk about how long their walk to school was but they have to realize that it helps when younger folks who look up to them get to tell their story. There is a certain level of self-importance held by both generations but only the younger generations’ self-importance is spoken on.

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OG: I had a problem with this.  Philip Agnew (A brilliant young activist) and Sofia Campos were not allowed to speak. This is Philip Agnew’s speech for those that have not read it. Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials should’ve had a prominent voice at the anniversary.  This speech should have been a symbolic “passing of the torch”.

Tunde: MLK was thirty-four during the original March on Washington.  Rep. John Lewis was 23 years of age. Whatever we’re fighting for now is partly for immediate change but it’s also to leave a better world for the next generation. Eventually the leaders of yesterday are going to have to pass the torch.  Leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, whom died naturally, or leaders such as Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton and James Chaney who died at the hands of people who would see the end of the Civil Rights Movement, gave way to the leaders who eventually saw the passing the of Civil Rights and Voting Acts. I think that these leaders who are still holding on to the spotlight have gone above and beyond what was called of them and are a credit to our people. I’m ready for fresh faces and voices, fresh ideas that will continue the fight against discrimination and injustice.