I went downtown to the Newseum this morning to see the coverage of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. Every morning in front of the Newseum the front page of one paper per state is on display. Since yesterday was such an historic day, I was intrigued to look at all 50 states’ coverage. I went through twice to really “take in” all of the coverage, or, in some cases, the lack thereof.
I was shocked and surprised that some states had no mention of the anniversary of The March. Some states did not show the President. Some states showed all of the living (and present) Presidents. Some states just showed photos of the crowd, some just had a banner mention, some just simply an editorial. Some just showed Martin Luther King, III. Some showed Obama greeting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s only granddaughter. One state didn’t even show one of their own Congressional delegation, who was there 50 years ago as the youngest speaker and who was there yesterday as a sitting elected official.
It was disappointing to see that AL, LA and MS showed only photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, commemorating the 5-year anniversary of her landfall.
Some states had coverage, but only below the fold.
A collection of the three top national newspapers, the New York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal, each had coverage.
I spoke to a woman who was also intrigued and definitely paying a lot of attention. I mentioned to her, “it’s interesting, isn’t it, to see which states do not have any coverage?” She quickly responded, indicating she was thinking, too: “it is interesting to see which states don’t show Obama on the front page!”
Now, maybe I was moved because I was a history major with a focus on American studies, maybe because I wrote my senior thesis on Fannie Lou Hamer. Maybe it is just that I grew up here, but was not there fifty years ago (obviously!). Either way, I consider yesterday an historic day in our nation’s history….
…For red states
…For blue states
…For Northern states
…For Southern states
…For the United States!
It was interesting to note the coverage from around this great country. It was indicative of work left to do.
Here is a link to Rep. John Lewis’ speech. His home state did not show his face at all on the cover of their newspaper this morning. This honorable man was a Freedom Rider and the youngest speaker 50 years ago in his role as the President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Yesterday he spoke very passionately and eloquently as a sitting African-American member of the U.S. Congress, where he has served since 1987. (I was 10.)
The best line he delivered during his speech at the Realize the Dream March Rally on Saturday was:
“I got arrested 40 times during the ’60s, beaten and left bloody and unconscious. But I’m not tired. I’m not weary. I’m not prepared to sit down and give up. I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight.”
Listen to his entire speech here.
True to form, President Barack Obama’s remarks were on target and moving. Listen here. He wrapped it up with:
“That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge — she’s marching.
That successful businessman who doesn’t have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con who is down on his luck — he’s marching.
The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same door as anybody’s son — she’s marching.
The father who realizes the most important job he’ll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn’t have a father — especially if he didn’t have a father at home — he’s marching.
The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again, and walk again, and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home — they are marching.
Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day — that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington; that change has always been built on our willingness, We The People, to take on the mantle of citizenship — you are marching.
And that’s the lesson of our past. That’s the promise of tomorrow — that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. That when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
(& thanks for reading!)