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.

UPDATE:

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.

Message from the UCC Collegium of Officers

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.)

Reflections

Lest We Forget

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.

King Remembered

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.

Take Action

Restore the Voting Rights Act

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.

Contact your members of Congress and urge them to work toward restoring needed protections against voter discrimination by updating and strengthening the Voting Rights Act.

Events for the March on Washington

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.

Check the official listings for more information on events. Here are a few you may want to consider:

Lifelines to Healing - National Tour
August 18-23, 2013
In the week leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, Lifelines to Healing is embarking on a 15-city national bus tour that will culminate in Washington, DC. Convened in direct response to the outcry following the killing of Trayvon Martin, the tour will build awareness around the persistent disparities that exist between King’s dream and the realities of being a person of color in 2013. UCC Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior pastor of Newtown Congregational in Newtown, CT, will particpate, making stops in various cities before arriving at the nation's capital.

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)

Let Freedom Ring Commemoration - Bell Ringing to Mark Conclusion of March on Washington Across the Nation & World
Wednesday, August 28- 1:00-5:00 PM
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)

Prayers & Worship Resources

Creating the Beloved Community

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.

(Source: Creating the Beloved Community)

Hymn: The Universe is Bending

Learn More

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:

Racial Justice
Sacred Conversations on Race
Understanding the Intersections of Race and other Justice Issues

Criminal Justice
Gun Control
Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Children and Youth

Worker Justice

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CONTACT INFO

Ms. Sandra Sorensen
Director of Washington Office
UCC Washington, DC Office
Justice And Witness Ministries
100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington,District of Columbia 20002
202-543-1517
sorenses@ucc.org

Rev. Elizabeth Leung
Minister for Racial Justice
Education for Faithful Action Ministries
Justice And Witness Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3719
leunge@ucc.org