Commemorating the March on Washington

Aug 12, 2013

Rustin Bayard withMLK2August 28th will be the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, three months before the assassination of President Kennedy.

For this writer who was only a year old, the day most probably came and went with lots of napping, consuming and digesting, but for the mother of said writer, it was a day to be filed with her most reverent memories.

Today, with an African-American holding the highest office in the land, and with the extent of overt and covert racism that has been fueled and unleashed since Barak Obama won the presidency in 2008, remembering—and celebrating—this watershed march that culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, is especially poignant and important.” Interestingly enough, and indicative of his inner fortitude, Bayard was not only a black man and a radical, he was also a pacifist and gay (Huffington Post).

On August 17th, Peter Dreier, Occidental College professor and author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, will introduce a screening of the award-winning documentary, Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.

According to Dreier, Rustin, who was the lead organizer for the March on Washington, used “his immense talents—as organizer, strategist, speaker, intellectual, and writer—to effectively challenge the economic and racial status quo. Always an outsider, he helped catalyze the civil rights movement with courageous acts of resistance.”

Bayard speaks to a group of march marshals prior to event. August 13, 1963; Harlem; photo courtesy of Bettmann/CORBIS

Bayard speaks to a group of march marshals prior to event. August 13, 1963; Harlem; photo courtesy of Bettmann/CORBIS

It is widely accepted that the March on Washington and King’s speech helped precipitate the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (For a fascinating blow by blow of this Congressional battle, visit

On Thursday, August 9, 2013, President Obama bestowed upon Mr. Bayard the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr. Bayard died in 1987.

Presidential-Medal-of-Freedom-with-Distinction_smallCommemorating the March on Washington
Saturday, Aug. 17th, 2 p.m.
Pasadena Public Library’s Allendale Branch
1130 S. Marengo Ave., Pasadena 91106
Free event and appropriate for all ages
For more info, contact Shauna Redmond at 626.744.7260
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