by J. Chris Sanders, Of Counsel, Kircher, Suetholz and Grayson. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In 1963, hundreds of thousands marched on Washington for jobs and freedom. That huge effort and historic day, 50 years ago this month, is being commemorated with an anniversary march and surrounding activities. I hope it's big- nothing less than amazing will do.
An anniversary march is a moment for reflection. Others more qualified than me will have much to say on the history and state of civil rights in America. But this anniversary has me thinking about marches and marching in general. Why march? What does it do? Critics and cynics say, "Nothing. Marches are a waste of time and money. They're fruitless gestures. Fixes to major problems and change on the scale needed don’t come on the heels of a weekend in Washington."
I disagree. I believe marches bring results, not simultaneously with the throngs moving down the street, but results that aren't immediate are no less results. Marches matter and marches work. Marches (and rallies and large-scale benefit concerts for causes and more) are group expressions of individual fears, anger, hopes, and dreams gathered together.
People who go to the trouble and expense of marching are people to be reckoned with. We leave behind the comforts of home and the comfort zone of lonely railing against the TV and on social media. We briefly put aside the challenges of daily life- jobs, bills, kids- for a higher purpose. As the Bible says, we present ourselves, literally, physically, our bodies as living sacrifices of time, comfort, money, and hope. We're weekend pilgrims, traveling to stand, listen, yell, sing, and pray in public space.
At a successful march it is obvious, with a palpable urgency in the air, that the consent of the governed is thin with wear from the pressure, resistance and inertia exerted by those in power. Thus the march is big-picture direct action. It declares that the reins of power have passed, for a time, to the people on the strength and virtue of a big idea whose time has come.