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The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

8/28/2013 4:42 PM - Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr.

Faith, Courage and a Dream

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, a speech that touched the souls of many and became the catalyst that ignited the Civil Rights Movement.  In his letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. King wrote, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” The reality is that we are always better if we stand together as a united front.  The progress of a nation depends upon the collective beliefs of that nation, the belief to prosper, to flourish and nurture a community that will sustain the future generations to come.

We have come far, but we still have a long way to go. When the March on Washington took place, I was a young boy not fully aware of the events that were transpiring in the world around me, unaware that at that very moment, the movement would become the foundation that would help to shape my path. I am thankful for the courage and bravery shown by Dr. King and the countless others who were steadfast and unmovable in the face of attacks; their faith and passion are immeasurable. In the hopes of paying it forward, I have made it my mission to continue the dream that Dr. King envisioned. 

The children are our future.  We must recognize that the future generations need strong leaders and tenacious role models that will fight for their better future by insuring that they have access to a quality life, a life without unjustifiable limits. We have to stand together in the fight for adequate education for all of our children.  We must recognize that public schools where kids need the most, often receive the least. The cruel reality of that fact undermines the success of their future. Public education is an economic necessity and the foundation of our global success. We cannot justify the exclusion of many for the inclusion of a few.  

We stand today, five decades since the March on Washington, faced with some of the same issues that plagued our nation then. We face many hurdles, some seeming impossible to get over, but they must be overcome.  We can conquer these together, as a community and as a unified nation. We must be advocates for justice and compassion. I am reminded by the 1965 speech Dr. King made on the steps of the Montgomery, Alabama capitol where he shared with us that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice.” That arc cannot bend alone; we are all in this together. Let us mark this 50th anniversary with the promise to advance the dream and lead the future generations on a path to a brighter tomorrow. 

I believe in the infinite possibilities that faith, courage and a dream can achieve. 

 Bernard A. Harris, Jr. MD, MBA, FACP

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