By Charles Hallman
A small but very enthusiastic group of Minneapolis-area residents returned from last Saturday’s commemorative march in Washington, D.C. pledging to work together for change.
As the oratory at the 1963 March on Washington, which featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, was important then, so was last weekend’s march, believes Hattie Bonds. She and her two young sons — her “change babies” as she proudly calls them — were among the nearly 30 people who left Sabathani Community Center last Friday for a two-day bus trip to the Nation’s Capitol. They joined thousands from around the nation to mark the 50th anniversary of the original August 28 March on Washington
Last weekend’s event was “spearheaded” by National Action Network (NAN) along with other legacy Civil Rights organizations and various unions that sponsored it, explained Bonds, a member of NAN’s Minneapolis chapter. She told the MSR prior to leaving for D.C. that she hoped that those who attended the march last weekend would be moved to action.
“We have issues related around jobs, criminal justice, housing and education,” she points out. “We take everything to the national level but then we have to come back locally and do something about it. My greatest hope and desire is that when we come back, we will be inspired to make the necessary change to improve our city, our state, our country and to improve the world.”
“I’m just doing this for my kids, my community,” admitted Cathy Jones, whose two teenage daughters wished their mother well before she boarded the bus. “I’m very proud of her going on this trip,” said Apryl Bernard. “I’d wished I could have gone as well,” said her sister Sommer Bernard.
“I want to see and hear what the regular folk are doing around the country,” said Val Barnes, another bus rider.
Said Lucy Buckner, “I went to the march in 1963, and I went to the march in 1983 when Mrs. [Coretta Scott] King led it. Now, 50 years later, I’m able to walk and be in it in 2013. I’m glad I’m alive.”
“I was 14 when the first [march] happened, and I wanted to go on that one. This is my opportunity to do it [this time],” added Mark Tolbert.
“Amazing” and “very satisfying” were just two of the adjectives of praise the group used to described last weekend’s event, Bonds told the MSR after their return Sunday afternoon. The Eyes on the Prize documentary was shown on the way to Washington, and a film on Nelson Mandela was shown on their way back, she noted.
“Camaraderie” also was developed among the group that spanned across generations and included two persons from Fargo, N.D. and Des Moines, Iowa, she added.
“Everybody says it was an electrifying experience,” reported Bonds, who, when told that the Washington crowd last weekend was estimated at 100,000, responded, “It was more than that. It was just too many people” to count.
Bonds said that everyone in the contingent pledged to work together for change. “[Phone] numbers were exchanged. We will be working on issues together. We must work together across all lines to improve this.
“We got to take back our government — it [now] belongs to corporate America. It needs to belong to the people. We need to start with action in the voting booth,” Bonds said. “If [an elected official] is not working for the people, you need to get out of there.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.