B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
As the 60th anniversary of the defining March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom approaches, B’nai B’rith commemorates its vitally important role in the fight for civil rights.
August 28 marks 60 years since civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the historic “I have a dream” speech that became a turning point for race relations and equality in the United States.
The march on August 28, 1963, was attended by more than 200,000 demonstrators, forever changing the course of American history. It was one of the largest demonstrations against discrimination and segregation in the United States.
B’nai B’rith members and supporters proudly marched alongside King in the nation’s capital. Since our founding in New York City in 1843, B’nai B’rith has fiercely advocated for social equality and the civil rights of all people. As an organization, B’nai B’rith continues to stand by King’s message of equality for all, regardless of race, color, sex, religion or national origin.
In his address to the nation, King called for the end of discriminatory practices and for equal economic opportunities for all citizens. He famously envisioned a future where all people could coexist in unity: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
The success of the march moved the Kennedy administration to propose legislation that would protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans, regardless of their skin color. Following the march, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed by Congress, outlawing discrimination in the workplace and public spaces, and guaranteeing all the right to vote.
The legacy and impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the United States reminds us how valuable community organization and advocacy are in the face of adversity. As we look back at the March on Washington, we remember how far our country has progressed in the pursuit of equal rights and freedom for all. We continue to let King’s goal of racial harmony inspire us to persist working toward a world that is truly free from prejudice and hatred.