Lessons from the March on Washington
Today, as we watch Congress fail to pass legislation necessary to furthering equality in the U.S., we should remember the March on Washington. When Congress and the President failed to act on civil rights, citizens took action. In his article, Julian Zelitzer argues that congress in 1963 was comparable to congress today; it was seen as a do-nothing body caught in the nitty-gritty of politics, failing to do something meaningful.
The March on Washington, combined with the other grass-roots protests, was a shining example of how gridlock can be brought to an end and how average citizens can shake the political system when key actors are blocking progress on key issues of the day.
Today we should take a closer look at this march. In an age when certain members of Congress are unwilling to resolve so many issues — from gun control to immigration — it is worth remembering that in the past, citizens have been able to make a huge difference. Legislators are, after all, creatures of elections. If mass movements can make demands on the leadership and demonstrate the urgency of action, they might be the push legislators need toward the legislation that seems so elusive in 2013.
We too need to make our voices heard to our politicians. When you believe in something, engage in the political process!