September 25, 2013 | 15 views
Wilton Robinson: One man's journey to the mountain
Part three of a series - "Civil Rights: 50 years later
The Leader series continues this week:
by Laura Schofer
“Not there yet,” Wilton Robinson said, referring to the long civil rights struggle for African-Americans. “That’s why we have to keep moving forward, stay engaged and be committed to the belief that we can all sit at America’s bountiful table as one people.”
Wilton Robinson of Roosevelt and formerly of Freeport, pauses. “But in order to move forward, there are times you need to look back; learn from the past so we can make things better for the future. You have to make the journey.”
Over the last month or so, Mr. Robinson took that journey back to 1963, a year of momentous change for many Americans, but especially for African Americans. He was present at two events – the 50th anniversary march in Washington D.C. on August 24 to commemorate the August 28, 1963 event led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and then on September 15, he attended the 50th anniversary service to mark the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. The past and the present had come together, “for a better future,” he said. “I remain hopeful. I believe in a higher power, one that works for the good of the people.”
March on Washington D.C.
On August 24, Mr. Robinson was in Washington, D.C., along with members of the 1199 organization. He, along with his mother Mary Robinson of Freeport and niece Mary, took a bus to Washington D.C, marching both in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to demand that our government not ignore the stalled economy, underemployment and a criminal justice system of mass incarceration of African American men that has been coined as the “new Jim Crow.”
In 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking the Reflecting Pool, before a throng of people, black and white, Dr. King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, calling for freedom, color blindness and the pursuit of happiness.
In 2013, Wilton Robinson stood at the King Memorial and listened to Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King III, speak about immigration reform, voting rights and the right of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Mr. Robinson. “He spoke about his father, about the original march and what challenges were ahead of us. It was very inspiring,” he said.