Inspired to work harder and dream bigger

Wow! Yesterday’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington was pretty sensational, and I felt privileged to be able to be there. The on again off again rain couldn’t dampen my spirits — I was moved by the music, and it was truly inspirational to hear pioneers who have helped shape our country for the better tell their stories of how they came to the fight for justice and freedom for all Americans.

Julian Bond, Andrew Young, and John Lewis were all there, and Julian Bond talked about his grandparents who were slaves — something that seems truly unimaginable today. The remarks of the Reverend Bernice King (Dr. King’s daughter) were particularly passionate and eloquent. She included people with disabilities in her remarks, too. Woo-hoo! Here’s the link to her speech on YouTube.

I was over the moon to have Fred Maahs, Easter Seals national board member and chairman of the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities, as the voice for our community. Fred is an executive with Comcast and was a great spokesperson for people with disabilities. He talked about his life before and after the diving accident that caused his disability and reinforced that while we have a lot to celebrate, people with disabilities still have significant unmet needs. Too many kids aren’t getting the supports in school they need, and too many adults are unemployed.

On a personal note, I am grateful to have been very close to one of the organizers of the 1963 March, Arnold Aronson. Arnie was the founder of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights along with Roy Wilkins and A. Phillip Randolph in 1950. LCCR has coordinated all the federal legislative campaigns for the civil rights community.

Arni’s been gone almost 15 years now, but he was with me today. Arnie often talked about being in the car with MLK on the way to the speech and that Dr. King was coy about the content of his remarks. I hope Arnie and Dr. King would take comfort in the progress that our nation has made over these past five decades. I also hope they continue to inspire us to work harder, dream bigger and remember that kindness, love and respect are essential to progress as a community and as a country.


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