Pick up a copy of the Daily News on Friday for a special 16-page pullout section marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and Dr. Martin Luther King's epic "I have a dream" speech. Here's an excerpt from my main piece.
For a then-Overbrook teenager named Bob Ross, the bumpy ride that has been five decades of American civil rights struggle truly began on the warm, sun-soaked Wednesday morning of August 28, 1963, when the Army-bound 19-year-old boarded a bus to join his mom at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In the years that followed, Ross fashioned a successful career as both railroad engineer and a union leader – gaining jobs that had been completely off-limits for African-Americans in the years before Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream of America where people like the Philadelphia-born youth “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
But in his current role as director of the NAACP chapter in the Washington suburb of Prince George’s County, Md., where he relocated, Ross is remarkably busy these days organizing rallies and events around the promises of that bright 1963 afternoon that have gone unfilled or even slid backwards: Mass incarceration resulting from the government’s “war on drugs” and soaring rates of mortgage foreclosures in black neighborhoods.
“[Dr. King] would say the March still continues – but it’s shifted from civil rights to human rights,” said the now 69-year-old Ross, referring to income inequality in America that has actually worsened over the last 50 years.
Also in the pullout section and on PhillyDailyNews.com:
Elmer Smith writes about the often overlooked role of Bayard Rustin in both organizing the march and in his leadership in civil rights dating to the early 1940s.
Helen Ubinas talks with Amateur photographer Harold Rosenthal and reveals his never-before-published photos of the march.
Christine Flowers on how words trumped dogs and fire hoses.
And much more.