New York, NY, August 28, 2023 – 60 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and hundreds of thousands of Americans marched on Washington in the most powerful exhibition of America’s quest for social justice and racial equality. We honor today the anniversary of that major milestone, but soberly remind ourselves that the fight is not over yet.
On that day, August 28, 1964, next to Dr. King was a Jew, Dr. Joachim Prinz, then-President of the American Jewish Congress, as well tens of thousands of members of our community, fighting alongside our African American brothers and sisters for a better, more just, and more prosperous America for all.
But we didn’t only march on that day. In front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. performed his famous “I have a dream” speech, Dr. Prinz addressed the crowd with an impassioned speech, powerfully arguing that “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.” It is on that premise that wehave always – and continue to this day – to speak out against injustices, wherever we see them; call out discrimination, in all its forms; and raise our voices forcefully against hate the moment it rears its ugly head.
As Dr. King said when speaking at the national convention of the American Jewish Congress, years before the March on Washington, “Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries.” That struggle continues to this very day – and we must remain steadfast and resolute in face of our shared adversities.
Unfortunately, we are reminded each and every day that the fight against hatred, bigotry, and inequality continues. Just a day before this solemn anniversary day, our nation received news that another community was brutally and tragically terrorized by white supremacist violence. In Jacksonville, Florida, a white supremacist terrorist – one who had trafficked in racist, white supremacist hate, and had his guns marked with swastikas targeted the Black community and killed three innocent souls.
As racism and hate continue to plague America, the perennial fight for racial justice and equality continues. Our resolve is being tested and we must show the world, once again, that we will pass the test. We owe it to Dr. King, Dr. Prinz, and the 250,000 courageous Americans that marched in Washington, D.C., 60 years ago. As much as we owe it to our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.
(Photo: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, pictured Martin Luther King, Jr. and Joachim Prinz, then-President of the American Jewish Congress, August 28, 1963)