“1963 is not an end but a beginning. . . .”

Posted September 6th, 2013 by Albert DeCiccio Ph.D., Provost, Southern Vermont College

Fifty years ago yesterday, Dr. King spoke these words to the many who marched on Washington in protest for jobs and freedom.  It was still a time of possibility, as President Kennedy was living, the social revolution had not soured, even Beatlemania had not yet happened. Well, history reminds us that, while protest marches like the one at which King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” was delivered are great vehicles for bringing about change (and that march did bring jobs and freedom), other forces can thwart possibility, for President Kennedy was assassinated three months later, people soured on the sixties social revolution, and even the Beatles broke up.  

Notwithstanding the realities that temper possibility, yesterday's march on Washington commemorating the march 50 years ago for jobs and freedom does again remind us of the possibilities before us, while it acknowledges the initiative and courage of those who marched and spoke out with Dr. King in 1963.  We have an African American as President, many are talking about the very real chance that President Obama's party will put forward a strong woman as candidate for president in 2016 (Hillary Clinton), emphasis is being placed on education and jobs and healthcare, and global transformations show us that horrors such as those in Syria can never be tolerated if we are to endure as a race.

Yesterday reminds me, again, that, despite the many failings and shortcomings in our history, America has led (and will continue to lead) the way for progressive action that will benefit its people as well as the people of the world.  I think that all of us who are engaged in the educative process at SVC can assist in that effort, adding to business, social, scientific, humanistic, healthcare, and professional communities.  I look forward to next week with great anticipation, as the new academic year will begin and our Academic Convocation featuring Anita Hill, whose role in the sexual harassment narrative of the past twenty-plus years is large indeed.  I hope that you all share my enthusiasm for what yesterday commemorates and for the many possibilities that attend the start of the new academic year next week.  We might say that 2013 is not an end but a beginning.

Enjoy the Hughes poem below about what is possible and what sill needs to happen in America:

I, Too, Sing America 

Langston Hughes


I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.


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