Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

History in the Making

Jun 09, 2011

There are relatively few moments in our lives that make history; a precise occasion that is marked and reflected upon as either a game changer or a period of extreme significance. The weekend of August 27th & 28th will be one for the books as we not only commemorate the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream Speech,' but also when the world bears witness to the unveiling of the national King Memorial. As members of the civil rights community and all those who continue to push for equality across the board convene in our nation's capital to assess our progress and march on for the battles that still lay ahead, generations will look back on this weekend and recount how we paid homage to the people's true champion in the most fitting of ways. It is undeniably an unprecedented, remarkable event that anyone who carries on the teachings of Dr. King simply cannot afford to miss.

We are living in perhaps one of the most unpredictable and capricious times in our nation's history. While people of color and the traditionally marginalized make enormous strides with access to places never even imaginable before, the working class and poor are still under attack in extraordinary and systematic ways. When the disenfranchised are further removed from the mainstream, the class divide between the haves and have not's naturally increases. For those who may be quick to forget the legacy of Dr. King, let us remember that he died while fighting for worker's rights and the basic human dignity of all.

Since last year's march in Washington, regressive tactics have sadly been on display across the country. In the state of Wisconsin, we first observed measures to dismantle unions and collective bargaining rights that sadly were soon emulated in other places from coast to coast. And unfortunately, the same conservative Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, recently signed a measure requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls, making it the 11th state to implement such a policy. When many poor, elderly and rural residents do not even possess a driver's license, such legislation instantly deters certain sectors of the populous from voting. And when harsh immigration tactics and the refusal of elected officials to pass the DREAM Act impede on the ability of people of color to have a voice in society, we still have a tremendous way to go.

As working Americans incessantly struggle to gain employment and livable wages, we continue to watch rampant foreclosures and fluctuating markets most heavily impact those that are already suffering under tumultuous financial times. National Action Network, and our partners in labor, education, civil rights and the Church, call on every man, woman and child who understands the urgency of social justice on all levels to join us in Washington, D.C. this August. If you have ever faced oppression, been discriminated against, lost your ability to provide for your family, lost decent health care, watched families torn apart from mass incarceration rates, or simply understand the nobility in fighting for equality, be sure to gather at the Lincoln Memorial as we carry on the message of Dr. King.

Following NAN's rally and march, we will all re-convene the next day on Aug. 28th and bear witness to the momentous unveiling of the King Memorial. Thanks to the unwavering fundraising efforts of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the King Memorial will not only pay homage to our nation's greatest civil rights leader, but it will also be the first time a non-president will be memorialized on the banks of the Potomac. It will be a weekend of reflection, organization, strategy, celebration and hope for what we have gainfully achieved, what unites us as human beings and what challenges still remain. All roads in August lead to Washington -- don't get left behind in the dust of stagnation.