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On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Brighton, MA (08/28/13)  Exactly 50 years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Sisters of St. Joseph, Associates, co-workers, neighbors, local business professionals, elected officials, and civic representatives gathered at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse. Over 150 participants gathered in solidarity with the 250,000 people who, 50 years ago today, marched as diverse individuals united by a passion and commitment to a UNITED States of America. They raised their voices throughout our nation to call attention to this significant event in the history of the struggle for Civil Rights for African Americans and other marginalized groups in the United States.

The August 28, 1963, march was a pivotal event in the civil rights struggle, resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As today’s participants celebrated this important milestone, they looked back with gratitude for the work of civil rights champions, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many who marched at his side. They also prayerfully considered the ongoing work yet to be accomplished. 

Those gathered viewed a TIME video titled “One Man, One March, One Speech, One Dream”. It became clear that the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was an interracial and interfaith march. Countless ordinary people with extraordinary vision and sense of urgency gathered in in Doctor King’s words “to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.” Something greater grew out of this march and that was an awareness of the power of peaceful social movements to bring about significant change.   

In the words of Rep. John Lewis, “The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was a summons, a call to the collective conscience of America.” In her remarks to those present, Sister Pat Andrews, CSJ, asked, “What is this dream that binds us together? Do we have a vision of the dignity that respects the rights of all people?” Can we become a community that builds bridges instead of walls?”

As we dare to continue the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the march teaches us that we are at our best when we understand that our differences do not need to divide us. Dr. King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech redirected the moral compass of our nation toward concern for the cause of justice.  We’ve come a long way but many of the issues are still before us today. 50 years to the day – so much has been accomplished, yet, at the same time so much more needs to be achieved. 


Thomas Nunan, Principal St Joseph Preparatory High School speaks with his former student Felix Arroyo, At-large - Boston City Councilor

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Pat Andrews, CSJ, Director of The Literacy Connection, speaks with Lauress Wilkins, PhD Philosophy and Religious studies, Regis College, Weston, MA

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Pat Andrews, CSJ, Director of The Literacy Connection, reflects on the meaning of the 50th anniversary of the march and it’s ongoing message for today’s world.


Helen Sullivan, CSJ, Director of Justice and Peace,
introduces the service sets the event in context.


Helen Sullivan, CSJ, Director of the Office of Justice and Peace, helen.sullivan@csjboston.org  617.746.2102

Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, Director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston 

617.746.2110 or Joanne.gallagher@csjboston.org

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