The 1963 March on Washington will be commemorated in New Orleans with a march in Central City and rally Saturday that will also honor the overall civil-right movements of the era and its continuation today, organizers said.
The march will begin at Ashe Cultural Arts Center on O.C. Haley Boulevard at 10 a.m. Saturday. For details, see the news release below:
Justice and Beyond Hosts March and Rally
Justice and Beyond, a local coalition of community, labor, and religious groups announces a local commemoration of the historic 1963 March on Washington. Christian Unity Baptist Church, the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO, Safe Streets Strong Communities, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, The Southeast Louisiana Building Trades, Love Outreach Ministries, United Teachers of New Orleans, A Community Voice, Orleans Public Education Network, and Israelite Baptist Church are a few of the organizations participating in the Justice and Beyond Coalition march and rally.
The commemoration will be held at the same time of a national commemoration held in Washington, D.C. It will begin at Ashe Cultural Art Center on Oretha Castle Haley Street and proceed to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. monument on Claiborne and then proceed to Israelite Baptist Church 2100 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, pastored by Rev. Emanuel Smith, Jr.
The march and rally will commemorate in part the voices and struggles of the Freedom Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, but will also celebrate ongoing community organizing in New Orleans and around the nation in public education, jobs and contracting for African-Americans and people of color, healthcare, voting rights (civic engagement), and criminal justice.
“We eliminated or killed Jim Crow and racial segregation”, said Pat Bryant, co-moderator of Justice and Beyond, “but African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians and white allies still have to fight effectively against white privilege when it comes to economics and political power. It is our disunity that is our major hurdle. We have to work together.”
The march organizers expect a mixture of youth and adults, African-Americans, Euro-Americans, Latinos, and Asians to participate in cultural and political activities that include music, dance, panel of speakers, poets and other artists who will “fill participants’ hearts, heads, and hands” said Rev. Dr. Dwight Webster, co-moderator of Justice and Beyond, and keynote speaker for the event. There will be marching bands, and brass bands, and African drummers, and Gospel choirs noting the strong musical tradition that has been a part of Freedom struggles and that is uniquely New Orleans.
There will be white papers given to participants on criminal justice, health care, voter registration and civic engagement, education, and jobs/contracting. Each will detail current justice struggles and strategies that interested persons can join.
Focus on education was key in the 1950 and 1960’s Freedom struggles. Deirdre Johnson Burel, Executive Director of Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN) remarked about the importance of equal access to education, “as we enter into the next 50 years, education is a critical frontier to ensure the futures of young people. In order to realize the dream Dr. King so eloquently articulated 50 years ago, we must ensure our work in public education builds EXCELLENCE and ensures EQUITY. OPEN is proud to commemorate this event with Justice and Beyond Coalition and other civic leaders.
The Interim President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans ,Erika McConduit-Diggs, explained that group’s involvement in the commemoration events: “The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom awakened the conscience of the nation relative to economic parity and civil rights. 50 years later we must embark on the next phase of the fight for Economic Empowerment and Justice. Until measureable progress is realized in the areas of quality education, jobs with livable wages, access to healthcare, and economic inclusion in entrepreneurship, this agenda will remain our greatest priority.”