SHSU commemorates March on Washington with art, speeches, poems
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 01:09
In 1963, thousands of people gathered at the Washington Mall to stand up for their civil rights; it was a turning point for a movement that continues on to this day.
Students, faculty and staff at Sam Houston State University were given the chance to take part in that movement Wednesday.
More than 100 people came together to commemorate one of the most significant events in American history: the March on Washington. The campus event honored the march where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic “I have a dream speech.” The event also let students show their support through open mic and artistic expression.
“Great art is like freedom,” artist Ronald Oliver said. While many participants chose to speak during the event, Oliver painted a portrait of King, who was assassinated not long after his famous speech.
“I wanted to put a face to what is still going on. The march is still happening today and we need more marchers,” Oliver said.
Professors and students read speech excerpts from the 10 men who spoke at the Washington March. Graduate student Chelsea Branch chose one given by Asa Philip Randolph.
“I chose to read his speech because it calls for a spirit of integration,” Branch said. “If we had that same spirit today, a lot of things could change.”
The event was hosted by associate professor Jeffrey Littlejohn, a history advocate and activist. The civil rights movement is, to him, one of the most fascinating periods of American history.
Fifty years ago King gave his speech on civil freedom; the Civil Rights Act was passed less than a year later.
Shortly after came the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the fight did not end with these victories. Every day people fight for equality. The American people have come a long way, and as the Bearkats demonstrated Wednesday, they do not intend on stopping.