Observing the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
"March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," August 1963. Photograph by Abbie Rowe | National Park Service Photograph
August 28 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations, thousands of marchers gathered in Washington to call for the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation, an end to racial segregation in public schools, protection from police brutality, job creation, an end to racial discrimination in hiring, a minimum wage and protection of the right to vote. The 1963 march was a pivotal event in the civil rights struggle, spurring passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As we celebrate this important milestone we look back with gratitude for the work of civil rights champions, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many who marched at his side, and we prayerfully consider the work yet to be done.
We have compiled a number of resources, reflections and prayers for your use, and we invite you to share additional events and reflections in the comments section below.
UCC members renew call to justice during March on Washington anniversary August 27, 2013 Participants from several United Church of Christ congregations gathered in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 24 for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Their reasons for being part of the historic event were connected by a common theme: a renewed call to justice.
On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The United Church of Christ has a longstanding commitment to the work of civil rights and equality for all people. We mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with a renewed faith commitment to upholding the fundamental dignity of every person. Our journey has brought us a long way in the struggle for racial equality; however, we hear the call of our Still Speaking God to address the still troubling discrepancies between our society’s highest ideals and the realities of our laws and practices of our common life. The UCC core values of Extravagant Welcome, Continuing Testament, and Changing Lives are a clarion call for justice, healing and reconciliation in ongoing struggle to end all forms of racism and inequality. (Read more of the Collegium reflection on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.)
Carol A. Brown, 13th National President of United Black Christians, United Church of Christ, reflects on the continued struggle for equality, and the need for all of us to push our spiritual, community and political leaders to create a better world for all God’s people. Read more.
Delilah Marrow, member of Old First Reformed UCC in Philadelphia, was one of the quarter million people who filled the National Mall on Aug. 28, 1963 to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “My heart was pounding,” Marrow, 82, said. “I was just so proud to hear the messages as he was speaking.” Read her reflections in the Jacksonville Daily News.
50 Years Later: Gratitude and a Call to Advocacy
Elizabeth Leung, our UCC Minister for Racial Justice, looks back with gratitude on the work Civil Rights leaders and reflects on the work we still need to do to address present day racial (in)justice. Read more.
Following the Arc of the Universe
Sandy Sorensen, Director of the UCC Washington Office, reflects on why we march, pray and act for justice on the anniversary of the March on Washington. Read more.
Voting is at the heart of the democratic process. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the important policy outcomes of the March on Washington and the work of the civil rights movement.
In late June, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder that suspended the use of the VRA’s most effective protections against racial discrimination, thus rendering other sections of the VRA which remain intact to be insufficient alone in ensuring such protections. The decision came despite the fact that there is substantial evidence of continuing racial discrimination in jurisdictions around the country, in the form of purging voter rolls, moving polling places, gerrymandering district lines and voter intimidation on Election Day.
There will be a number of events leading up to the anniversary of the March on Washington. Many of the UCC congregations in the D.C. region will be holding special worship services on Sunday, August 25. You can find a church through the UCC Potomac Association.
50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March & Rally Saturday, August 24 - 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM | Washington, D.C. National Conveners: Martin Luther King, III & Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network Join us here - UCC members are invited to gather in the area around the Lincoln Memorial near the corner of 17th and Constitution at 9 am on Saturday, August 24th. Follow the sidewalk along the edge of the World War II memorial to the beginning of the Reflecting Pool. We will be in the grassy, hilly area just above the sidewalk at the start of the Reflecting Pool (side closest to Constitution Ave). Look for large UCC banners.
Global Freedom Festival Saturday, August 24 - 2:00-6:00 PM | Washington, D.C. Hosted by The King Center & National Park Service
Interfaith Service at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Wednesday, August 28 - 9:00-10:30 AM | Washington, D.C. Hosted by The King Center and The Coalition for Jobs, Justice and Freedom (National Council of Negro Women, SCLC, National Urban League, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, National Action Network, National Council of Churches, Children’s Defense Fund)
O God, all people are your Beloved, across races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations and all the ways we are distinctive from one another. We are all manifestations of your image. We are bound together in an inescapable network of mutuality and tied to a single garment of destiny. You call us into your unending work of justice, peace and love. Let us know your presence among us now:
Let us delight in our diversity that offers glimpses of the mosaic of your beauty. Strengthen us with your steadfast love and transform our despairing fatigue into hope-filled action.
Under the shadow of your wings in this hour may we find rest and strength, renewal and hope. We ask this, inspired by the example of your disciple, Martin Luther King, Jr., and in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations. Participants in the march came to Washington to call for meaningful civil rights legislation, an end to racial segregation in public schools, protection from police brutality, job creation, an end to racial discrimination in hiring, a fair minimum wage and protection of the right to vote. Fifty years later the work on these issues continues. Use the following links to learn more about our work for justice and equality: