By Andrew Durbidge, M.Div. '14 The commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was an event that couldn’t be missed. As a 50-year-old seminarian I wanted to be present in Washington D.C. to mark the long struggle for equal rights that has been played out in societies from my native Australia to these United States.
On the journey to Washington D.C., I was accompanied by the Rev. Bradley Dyche (M.Div. ’02), an advocate for justice and peace through his leadership of Theology and Peace (www.theologyandpeace.org). The day was hot and steamy as we made our way toward the Mall, past the vast buildings that house the machinery of national government, past the museums, and toward the Washington Monument and the reflecting pools. A broken foot helped us bypass the massive crowds at the security checkpoint and soon we found some grass that offered a good view of the Lincoln Memorial.
Steady rain began as trade union officials, celebrity speakers, and well-known civil rights advocates took to the microphone, each marking the occasion with reminders that the job is yet to be finished, noting continued inequality in all areas of life and the rolling back of the Voting Rights Act. The President, former Presidents, the Martin Luther King family, and Rep. John Lewis all spoke eloquently about the struggle behind us and in front of us.
As I listened to the speeches I found myself reflecting on the short life of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who died in Alabama in 1965 fighting for equality. He, and the many others that had put their bodies on the line for the sake of advancing the cause, is why we can never rest in standing up for justice peacefully. The President reminded us that the job is yet unfinished when he said, “The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many—for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call, this remains our great unfinished business.”
Being present at this commemoration allowed me to better connect with the long struggle for social justice and equality in this country, which will help me to be more attentive to injustice in the communities in which I hope to serve.
The journey to this memorable event in Washington D.C. bore fruit of a different kind as well when Brad and I began a new phase in our wonderful relationship!