The Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) denounces the Glenn Beck-sponsored “Restoring Honor” rally taking place today, the anniversary of the March on Washington. Since 2003, the Center for Social Inclusion (“CSI”) has worked with a national network of partners to develop and advocate for innovative policies promoting racial equity. CSI joins other allies in condemning the Beck event for wrongfully exploiting the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the March on Washington, and the civil rights movement.

The majority of Americans celebrate August 28th as the day Dr. King delivered the historic “I Have a Dream” speech, articulating a vision of true equality that changed the course of U.S. history. At the time, the March was the largest-ever gathering at the nation’s capitol. Officially known as the March for Jobs and Freedom, the rally sought to open opportunities for all Americans of all races. Today, nearly 50 years after that seminal event, participants of the “Restoring Honor” rally argue that the civil rights gains of the past mean that race no longer matters. If only that were true.

America has yet to fully achieve the goals King and his allies envisioned in 1963. Studies of housing, education, employment, and numerous other areas show that people of color continue to suffer from systemic inequality and neglect. While many middle class workers of all races have seen factories shuttered and jobs stripped away, Black and Latino workers face disproportionately high unemployment rates. Schools with a majority of students of color are grossly underfunded compared to mostly-White schools. And Muslim Americans searching for peace and understanding across religions are told that they cannot worship God in downtown Manhattan. Can we really say Dr. King’s dream is a reality when such divisions continue to limit opportunities for so many people?

Glenn Beck and his supporters insist that the work of the civil rights movement is done and seek to curb the government’s ability to ensure that all people have equal access to opportunities. But we cannot progress as a nation without addressing ongoing problems, confronting how race continues to affect our policy decisions, and reaffirming our commitment to proactive civil rights solutions. Just as policies enacted in King’s time opened doors to millions of Americans, our government must address structural and social challenges by including community voices in policy planning, creating comprehensive and accessible job programs, and investing in the public in ways that will help this country emerge stronger and more unified. We cannot expect to meet the challenges of the future if many people continue to be left behind. More than ever, we need a smart and strong government and the public will to invest in one other. Only then will Dr. King’s dream be fully realized.

The Center for Social Inclusion works with local and national organizations to develop policy ideas, foster leadership, and create communication tools that help communities of color dismantle structural barriers to opportunity.

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