Date posted: August 28, 2013
Today in Washington DC, traffic is snarled, the Metro is crowded, and the mood is festive. We get a lot of demonstrations and commemorations here in the Nation’s Capital. We natives like to think we’re above it all, going about our business as busloads of ardent citizens sally forth for this or that cause.
Today, however, is different. We mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, of the “I have a dream” speech. That day and that march changed America. It was history in the making. But our understanding of it is often limited to grainy black and white video of Martin Luther King Jr.’s soaring rhetoric. We don’t remember the other speakers. We don’t remember the organizers. We don’t really remember the hopes and dreams of the marchers. And the very idea of segregated bathrooms and movie theaters seems like ancient history.
So much of our recent past is remembered less by personal experience or books than by television images. That’s both good and bad. The moving pictures, at their best, can be truly moving. Think of JFK’s young son saluting as his father’s casket passed by. But video only tells part of the story.
So it is, well, “historic” when video is used to delve deeper by recording the stories of the people who were there, who made history. That’s what Comcast’s His Dream, Our Stories does. The people who planned, organized, marched, and spoke a half century ago talk about what it was like, what they remember. We’re taken behind the scenes, into the streets and onto the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Although the “I have a dream” speech is magnificent and was a seminal event in American history, the March on Washington was a lot more than a single moment of oratory. His Dream Our Stories is an enduring opportunity to revisit that time, to hear from the participants, to get a fuller, richer, more detailed understanding.
If you’re teaching or learning about mid-twentieth century American history, interested in civil rights, or just curious about this event and how it influenced our lives, take some time to listen to those who were there. And, if you know someone who was in Washington fifty years ago, ask them about it and have them add their recollections to His Dream, Our Stories.
An e-book of His Dream, Our Stories is in the works. Stay tuned.