Thursday, August 29, 2013

Remembering the March (and marching onwards!)

This week, Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Most famous for the historic speech given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the "March on Washington" is a cultural touchstone of modern U.S. history.  With the establishment of a federal holiday in Dr. King's honor, it has become part of the rhythm of schools and colleges to include a King Day celebration, and with gaining popularity, a day of service where students are engaged in various forms of community activism and volunteerism.

With each passing year, the March on Washington becomes like all historical events.  The key players and the first-hand witnesses to the gathering begin to pass away.  Presently, Rep. John Lewis is the only major platform speaker still with us.  While he provides his speech for the anniversary gatherings, Rep. Lewis is adding to his legacy through telling his life story in graphic novel form. 

Envisioned as a three part series, Rep. Lewis recounts his upbringing in the South in the just published "March, Book One" volume (Top Shelf Productions, 2013, $14.95). 
Former President Clinton hails the author as one leading us "from a past of clenched fists into a future of out-stretched hands".  Lewis uses the frame of imparting his story to two young constituents who show up at his office on the morning of the 2009 inauguration of President Obama.  Wrapping his story around the present and the past makes good sense as Lewis has spent his years recounting his first hand experiences of segregation, desegregation and striding alongside Dr. King and other key Civil Rights leaders as they sought ways to smooth out the "stony the road [they] trod". 

As I explore March, Book I, I will share a more formal book review with the blog and my review work with the "Sharing the Practice" journal, the quarterly publication of the Academy of Parish Clergy.  The book is already making the rounds on best-seller lists in a few short days.  One hopes through the graphic novel medium, often considered just a format for the spandex clad superheroes, a new generation will discover the power of a story embodied in the life and witness of Rep. John Lewis.

Elsewhere in American Baptist circles, the General Secretary Rev. A. Roy Medley shares a pastoral letter on the March on Washington, readable via:

On the day, Dr. Medley was an invited guest, sitting in the eighth row of the 50th anniversary celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.  At the original gathering, we were well represented by various denominational representatives, seminarians, pastors and lay folks.  Dr. King and Rep. Lewis themselves are counted among our numbers as dually aligned members of ABCUSA and the NBC/PNBC groups.   A period publication noting ABC presence at the original March on Washington appears via this link:

Also on the morning of the 50th anniversary celebrations, American Baptist affiliated congregation Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, provided the venue for an interfaith prayer service with speakers from various faith groups and dynamic worship music.  To stream the service, visit

Spend time watching the original and the 50th anniversary speeches online. You'll find much to celebrate and some good reminders of what we Baptists join together with many diverse folks in seeking a just society and the beloved community.

No comments:

Post a Comment