Official Washington is always a decade or two behind the American people. That was true in 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream for a better America and it’s true today.
The 1963 March on Washington came 16 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Robinson did more than make news; he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, the MVP award two years later and entered the Hall of Fame in 1962. By then, black ballplayers were part of every major league team.
“For those in power, that was a terrible glimpse into the reality of how irrelevant much of what they do has become”
Another big moment took place in 1955 when Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Many other events, big and small, changed the nation’s attitudes on racial issues in the decades leading up to King’s most famous speech. But it had little impact on official Washington until the march forced the politicians to pay attention.