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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Media Fest Host Remembers March on Washington

by David James Randolph, Founder and Host of the New Way Media Fest in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I first crossed paths with John Lewis when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and again in Selma in 1965. When we met in California in 2009 it was to give thanks for the march thus far and to commit ourselves to march on in God's Great Parade for love and justice for all.  
 The March on Washington in 1963 was the outward and visible sign of the inner and spiritual transformation, which would change the world through one of history's greatest events. This leads to the March from Washington which for me meant back home to New Jersey and to jail in Jackson Mississippi in 1964 and the Bridge in Selma Alabama in 1965 with the landmark legislation which continued to change the world until June 25, 2013 when it was nullified in effect by the Supreme Court.  The greatness of the March on Washington in 1963 is that it symbolizes the universal quest for freedom while embodying the specific accomplishments of an objective historical event and movement for individuals and society.
         Back on the bus afterwards in conversation with Drew University colleague John Godsey and others, we agreed that Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream speech summed up the day. I was not surprised by this but by the over-whelming spectacle of the event, especially the music of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary and Mahalia Jackson that lifted us so high. To his day I can hear the voice of Joan Baez soaring like the soul above he crowd. Suddenly those of us who can do so little alone believe we can do everything together, and a consciousness begins to form that we can change he world. The torch of Pres. Kennedy is passed to a new generation of Americans. Here is a new frontier and we are on it.
All this coalesces in an invisible energy supply, which will fuel us as we go back home and beyond. Lessons learned then have meaning now. In the face of overpowering odds the action of a committed minority can transform society. Religious leaders can provide the spiritual and moral foundations for action while religious and educational institutions can inform and mobilize people. Media can draw attention to injustice and bring pressure for change. The President of the United States can use his “bully pulpit” as did John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Legislators can pass better laws, courts justly interpret them and police humanely enforce them. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when called upon by true leaders. As we face new challenges it is good to know that history is transformed not only in those shining events when the victors enter the city but also in those shadowy moments when people commit themselves to the Cause whatever the outcome. (The above is an excerpt from “The Great Parade: Life, Love, Work” by David James Randolph available from

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