Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 civil rights march on Washington, DC, Stony Brook’s Aaron Godfrey recounted his firsthand memories of the event in an August 27 Newsday op-ed.
Godfrey, a senior lecturer in the Department of European Languages, attended the march and heard the landmark “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Acknowledging King’s spellbinding oratory, Godfrey’s piece also recalls less famous but similarly important moments:
“Other speeches were equally moving. A. Philip Randolph, the old warrior and union organizer; Roy Wilkins, secretary of the NAACP; John Lewis — now a congressman, then the head of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee); and others prepared the way for King. The national anthem was led by Marian Anderson, and Mahalia Jackson also sang.”
Although much has changed since 1963, Godfrey calls on Americans to re-open the discussion about race in light of contemporary events:
“The recent Trayvon Martin case and the reactions to the verdict, and the finding of a judge about the application of stop-and-frisk tactics in New York City, show that racism is still a fact of life, and not only in the South.”