Blog and News

October 5, 2020

The March on Washington: A Reflection by Courtney Bell

The 2020 March on Washington.Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on my trip to D.C. in August. I got into some “good trouble” and marched with fellow protestors around the world to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “I have a dream” speech and protest against police violence and systemic racism.

Speakers like Al Sharpton and the families recently impacted most by police brutality shared their truth and bared their soul. They stood 18 steps from the top of the landing at the Lincoln memorial where there is an inscription that marks the very spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis stood 53 years ago. They advocated, just as they did for justice and equality. I could hear in their voices a trembling plea for basic human decency and love. I could hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice in the voices of the family members who have lost loved ones–“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

These beautiful family members had no idea a year ago that they would be thrust to the front lines but they carried the burden well and kept the hopes and dreams of their loved ones alive #theirlivesmatter.

The gravity of the moment was palpable in the air by this time. The march had not even started yet and then, at that moment, I looked back into the crowd with the Washington monument in view. I took a deeper look into the faces of the people I happened to be sharing this moment with. I gazed into their eyes, smiles, and wrinkles and felt like I was exactly at the place I should be at exactly the right moment and time. In the sea of the crowd, there were shades of black, brown, white, young, and old faces staring back at me. I felt their love for my life. Someone I never met traveled thousands of miles to say “BlackLivesMatter.” What a brilliant concept–caring for others.

So many emotions ran through my body, heart, and mind: hope, nostalgia, but most importantly, a renewed outlook to continue the fight. To continue this work. We all need renewal sometimes. Especially on the long days, months, or years like this one.

Each generation has a mission and I personally need these types of moments. Moments where our voices outweigh oppression and our numbers win. This gives me the clarity to see through the fog and stay on mission even when the road seems long and never-ending. Martin Luther King said, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Then there was a calm feeling of peace that came over me. A rush of thankfulness. Thankful for all the people around me, the wonderful leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis who stayed on mission. I felt so thankful to work for an organization and with a wonderful group of people who truly believe “mylifematters”. Know that I believe yours does too.

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” –John Lewis