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Rep. John Lewis on the Significance of August 28th

August 28, 2018
Press Release

This day in our nation’s history tells a powerful story in and of itself that charts the contemporary course of the struggle for social justice in America.

“The legacy of this one day in American history proves,” said Rep. John Lewis, “we have come a great distance in this country, but we still have a great distance to go before we lay down the burdens of race and class.  We should be inspired by these events which reveal the continuing urgency and the infinite possibility that confronting these challenges offers us as a nation.  In the end, we are one people, one family, the American family.  We all live in one house, the American house, the world house.  We must stay in the struggle for voting rights, civil rights, and human rights until we build a nation that respects the dignity and the worth of every human being.”

The History Made on August 28th

  • On August 28, 1955, a young 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till was murdered in Money, Mississippi.  The brutality of his death, as witnessed by a horrified world in photos of an open-casket funeral mandated by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, was said to represent the beginning of the modern-day civil rights struggle in the U.S.  Just four months after the Till murder, the successful 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott began that brought forth the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
  • August 28, 1963, was the date of the legendary March on Washington, when Dr. King made his seminal “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial.  In that speech he defined the struggle for social justice in America as  a “dream deeply rooted in the American 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.’”
  • Rep. John Lewis, then chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and only 23 years old, also made a speech that day and said, “We do not want our freedom gradually.  We want our freedom and we want it now…Where is our party?  Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?”
  • On August 28, 2005, New Orleans was evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Katrina to touch land the next day.  The differential federal response to emergencies in Mississippi and Louisiana due to the hurricane, the long-term neglect of the Ninth Ward and other districts in New Orleans, some of which have never been restored, and the widespread displacement of homeowners in those districts highlighted the continuing need for social justice activism in the United States.
  • On August 28, 2008, Sen. Barack Obama became the first African American to be nominated as a candidate for president by a major political party in the United States at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado.