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THE RELIGION CORNER: March on Washington Essential Again, 56 Years Later

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” — 2nd Chronicles 7:14 KJV

The year 2013 was when the District of Columbia served as host to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The mayor at the time was Vincent Gray, who served his four-year term in office from 2011-2015. The mayor appointed former D.C. Councilman Frank Smith to serve as the march coordinator for the District of Columbia, to work with the national committee in planning the anniversary march. Led by Martin Luther King III and Rev. Al Sharpton, buses came from around the country.

Since Dr. Smith had worked with me as a major special events coordinator for so many years, first as executive director of the annual Georgia Avenue Day festival and parade, then he appointed me to serve as project director of his African American Civil War Memorial project, therefore, having worked together more than 20 years, naturally he called on me, and appointed me to serve as the coordinator of the District of Columbia portion of the celebration. My job was to plan the day-to-day activities, conduct press conferences, get the word out throughout the city Council members, D.C. government agencies and all eight wards. My co-coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs was Steve Glaude, and our press conferences were held right there at the African American Civil War Museum, beginning with the mayor and his key cabinet members; union leaders, NAACP, pastors and others. They were always successful meetings, with standing room only!

The main event was being held on the National Mall, but Mayor Vincent Gray wanted a special Statehood Rally on the National Mall at the DC War Memorial. The theme was “Remembering the Legacy: Where Do We Go From Here?” Indeed, the theme from eight years ago of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is like deja vu, or as the kids can say, “been there, done that!”

Recently, I read an interview of Martin Luther King III, who said, “We see over 400 pieces of legislation. I think about 20 states have passed restrictive laws. So we’re in a very interesting time as it relates to the preservation of democracy.”

The Brennan Center reported that as of July 21, 18 states have already enacted 30 laws this year that will make it harder for Americans to vote.

We need this march even more than any. Many journalists have said that this is the worst it has been in America since the Civil War. In fact, President Biden even chimed in, calling the attack on voting rights the “most significant threat to our democracy since the Civil War.”

It was on Aug. 6, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Today, this new push to protect voting rights is real.

Martin III also said, “Back in 1964, my father went to visit President Johnson, and he said, ‘Mr. President, we need to get voting rights.’ The president said to him, ‘I understand what you’re saying, but I really don’t have the political ability to do anything.’ When Dad and his team left the White House, it was jokingly said, ‘Well, the president said he doesn’t have the power. We’re going to have to go out and create power.'”

That is exactly what happened then, and it is clear today that we must all get involved in every way possible to help make the permanent change needed here in America.

This new Voting Rights Bill is currently planned soon to be moved through the House, and hopefully the Senate can agree so that President Biden can sign this new law permanently so we won’t have to keep going back to the drawing board. Each of us must do all we can.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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