50 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the Lincoln Monument to listen as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recited the now-famous words, “I have a dream.”
50 years ago, some 250,000 Americans of all races, religions, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds marched with their brothers and sisters as one. They marched for civil and economic rights for African Americans, and for the values that imbued our nation’s founding: the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.
50 years ago, the Reform Jewish Community was on the front lines of this battle. Our Movement’s leaders helped lead some of the most important civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
50 years ago, Kivie Kaplan, a Reform Jew, URJ board member, and prominent advocate served as the president of the NAACP and also was the RAC’s founding benefactor, donating the building in which we continue to operate. And, of course, the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were drafted in the RAC’s conference room.
50 years ago, American Jews were active participants and leaders in the Civil Rights Movement’s protests, rallies and advocacy efforts from coast to coast. On Saturday, August 24, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs spoke in the opening prayer services of the commemorative National Action Network March on Washington. And on Wednesday, August 28, RAC staff will make the trek to the National Mall for the Anniversary rally to hear addresses from Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter.
This week, commemorate this momentous anniversary with us, either in D.C. or in your community.
Check out our Shabbat Tzedek portal for resources to celebrate this important moment in history, and look forward to the work still left to be done, at community gatherings or Shabbat services next weekend.