I Also Dream
Holding back tears as I watched the families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin approach the podium to speak during “The National Action to Realize the Dream March,” there was a mixture of mourning and hope amongst the crowd as they cheered for the families. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” I, along with tens of thousands of people gathered Aug. 24 at the Lincoln Memorial to not only pay homage to this historic event but to also take a stand on contemporary issues such as voter rights, “Stand Your Ground,” and racial profiling.” Awareness on unemployment, poverty, gun violence, immigration and other social and political issues affecting our nation were also addressed. The actual 50th anniversary is Aug. 28, 2013. My grandmother Patricia Douglas, who was born and raised in Florida, joined me along with my sister and younger cousin. My grandmother had experienced many of the issues that were fought for during the first March on Washington. I am currently witnessing similar issues occur in my generation along with new obstacles. Although we missed a few keynote speakers, Grandma’s persistent energy to maneuver through the crowd helped us find a spot on the grass just in time to hear the Rev. Al Sharpton’s remarks.
The message that struck me the most from Sharpton’s speech was that it is okay to dream. Dreamers are the ones who envision what you can’t see now. Dreamers are responsible for my reality. It made me appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to do so many things African Americans, women and minorities could not do in the past. The fact that America has an African American president now serving his second term shows that dreams can become a reality. I could become the first female African American president if I so choose. Sharpton also mentioned that we, as a nation and individually, must do housekeeping, starting with the way we respect ourselves and others. We must constantly be informed and proactive about the people we elect and on the policies being made. My grandmother, along with the crowd cheered as the next speaker, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, a minister in the United Methodist Church and leader in the American civil rights movement, made it very clear that “we came to DC to commemorate...we go home to agitate.” Following Lowery’s speech the families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin approached the stage. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing, two generations of families who lost a loved one over senseless violence. Emmett Till was brutally murdered Aug. 28, 1955 in Mississippi at age 14 after allegedly whistling at a white woman. Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed Feb. 26, 2012, in Florida, by George Zimmerman who claimed he shot the unarmed Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. That was a moment and a surreal feeling I will never forget because I could have been a victim to the same crime. The overall experience caused me to have an even greater appreciation for those who fought for my dream. I am encouraged to protect that dream not only for my era but for the generations behind me.