Continuing the March for Justice
Author’s Update: Even as thousands gathered on the national Mall on Saturday, August 26, 2023 to reaffirm their commitment to work for racial justice, a white gunman in Jacksonville, Florida, opened fire on Black customers in a Dollar General store, killing three Black individuals. The Jacksonville Sheriff and the Jacksonville Field Office of the FBI both confirmed that the massacre was a hate crime, and that the gunman expressed virulent racial hatred for Black persons. This appalling tragedy is the latest evidence of the fact that racial hatred continue to plague our nation, and the “dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., remains elusive. Politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers” while actively pursuing policies to ban teaching the truth about America’s shameful racial history, eliminating programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, and promoting free and easy access to guns like AR-15s must bear some responsibility for the festering toxic culture of racism that leads to such tragedies.
August 28, 2023 marks the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington, one of the landmark moments of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To mark the occasion, on Saturday, August 26, 2023 a coalition of civil rights organizations lead a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial and a march that they called “not a commemoration, a continuation.” Organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton, the program included speeches by Dr. King’s children and close associates as well as contemporary civil rights leaders.
Why is it important to continue the March in 2023? Sadly, in spite of more than half a century of hard work and much sacrifice to advance the cause of racial and social justice in this nation, we have experienced an astonishing, even appalling amount of backsliding and retrograde conduct by politicians and legislators, judges and activists determined to roll back the clock on civil rights. In just the last year, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the use of affirmative action plans in admission to college despite the clear evidence that virtually all of the most elite universities in the country are woefully deficient in their enrollment of students of color. Now, the movement against affirmative action — waged by some small right-wing plaintiffs and well-funded interest groups — is moving into corporate employment and other areas where affirmative action policies have played a major role in opening pathways for employment and advancement for Black Americans. The anti-affirmative action movement will not relent until all affirmative action policies are eliminated everywhere.
At the same time, governors and legislatures in a number of states have introduced legislation to limit or eliminate entirely Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, offices, classroom lessons and all related areas where DEI is present. In some states, the governmental intrusion into teaching about race and equity has extended to banning any teaching or discussion about the 1619 Project that traces the history of slavery and its role in the formation of the American republic. In Florida, the governor has issued orders banning books and prescribing how American history should be taught, going so far as mandating lessons that present slavery as beneficial to Black persons.
These and other governmental actions also fuel the increasingly volatile emergence of factions that openly support white supremacy, neo-nazism and anti-democratic ideologies. Authoritarian governors and presidential candidates are pitting extremist racists against the American people, fomenting racial unrest and violence as a strategy to win elections and move into control of governments.
So, yes, it is vitally important to continue the March on Washington in 2023,
At Trinity, thanks to the inspiration of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who founded and continue to inspire our work, our mission is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith teaching on social justice. The very first tenet of social justice is to uphold the dignity and worth of every human being, a principle that drives our work to promote racial justice and stand against racism and white supremacy, and other forms of hatred against people based on their nationality, language, religion, culture, beliefs, sexual orientation and personal characteristics. We express our commitment to racial and social justice in our statement Trinity DARE: Driving Actions for Racial Equity.
60 years after Dr. King expressed his dream for a nation united in racial harmony, Trinity stands in solidarity with all those who continue the march for as long as it takes to ensure justice for all. Trinity today redoubles its efforts to promote justice and work to achieve a nation where every person is able to enjoy the benefits of freedom and peace.
Read this Catholic Standard story featuring Sondra Dodson Raspberry ’91 who also taught English at Trinity for a number of years: