In pursuit of a dream: 50 years since the March on Washington

This photo, from the 1968 edition of the Rutherford yearbook, shows Dr. Martin Luther King speaking at Fairleigh Dickinson University in October 26, 1967, four years after the March on Washington.

By Kenna Caprio

August 28, 2013, marked the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for human rights and racial equality where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, “I have a dream.”

In honor of the occasion, Katie Singer senior lecturer in the College at Florham department of literature, language, writing and philosophy and director of the African-American studies minor  and Gary Darden  associate history professor and chair of the College at Florham department of social sciences and history discuss post-King progress:

“While overt racism has decreased markedly, due in large part to the overt actions of Dr. King and his colleagues and the brave participants in the Civil Rights Movement, it has been replaced with covert racism in many forms,” Singer says. “Our society has found new ways to practice old tricks.”

Three years after King’s landmark speech, he spoke at Fairleigh Dickinson University for the first time, appearing on the Metropolitan Campus on October 29, 1966. He returned the following year on October 26, 1967 and addressed nearly 2,000 students and faculty at the Rutherford Campus, receiving a standing ovation for his stance on the evolution of civil rights and the Vietnam War. The 1968 Rutherford yearbook pays tribute to King’s life and work following his assassination that year.

“There is much to celebrate since King’s famous 'Dream’ speech. In 1963, only 25% of African Americans graduated from high school while today that number is 87%. A vibrant and stable African-American middle class has bloomed, yet the poverty rate for African American children remains triple the rate for their white counterparts. And African American unemployment is double the rate of their white counterparts,” says Darden. “Knowing where we were as a nation helps guide us forward, or as King once declared in another famous speech, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’.”

“King knew it was a long road ahead and that he would not see the end of the road of racism,” Singer concludes. “None of us have seen that road end and so we must keep marching.”

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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