Stressing in a frustrated tone that the District of Columbia “still does not have full representation,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Wednesday swore in members of the Washington Commemorative Committee that will help pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington,
Heading the DC committee is civil rights leader Dr. Frank Smith, an African American activist who has a long and stellar career of political and community leadership.
Upwards of 250,000 gathered in the pivotal demonstration in the District of Columbia on August 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
“The events of that day – the prayers, the electrifying speeches, the stirring music – helped mark the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and reminded Americans of the nation’s long pursuit to fulfill its founding principles of liberty and equality for all,” stated a brochure produced by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and distributed at the swearing in ceremony.
In honor of that day, thousands are expected in DC in Saturday, August 24, 2013 for a commemoration of the original National March on Washington.
In the ceremonies at the Wilson Building, Gray swore in Fred Allen, Wylie Chen, Courtland Cox, Franklin Garcia, Charles Hicks, William Lucy, Dr. Frank Smith, Judith Terra, Dr. E. Faye Williams, the Rev. Reginald Green, Dr. John Franklin, Jerry Clark, Dr. Bernard Demzcuk, Elliott Ferguson, Dr. James Early and Joseph Madison.
Linda Cropp, former DC City Council chair, was named vice chairperson of the committee.
Gray said the committee’s mission is mainly two-fold:
“Identify and highlight local landmarks, works of art, civil rights leaders and artifacts identified as part of the District’s unique involvement and contribution to the historic 1963 March on Washington.
“Promote full civil rights for the District of Columbia and its residents….”
The committee chair, Dr. Smith, attended Morehouse College in Atlanta where he was a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He left Morehouse in his senior year to play a role in the Civil Rights Movement. He was involved and helped lead the planning and executing of protests and marches in Greenwood, Mississippi, during the Freedom Summer of 1964. He was a member of the DC City Council in the 1980s.
In 1998, Smith became chairman of the board and CEO for the organization that worked to establish the African American Civil War Memorial and an accompanying museum.
Neither an elephant nor a donkey was around to have a seat on this flashy sofa but, as intended, the PR gig did get some congressional derrieres.
Here’s the story line: This red and blue bipartisan Made In America sofa was parked at the U.S. Capitol to showcase a campaign effort designed to: (1) call attention to job losses on American soil, and, (2) close the divide, at least for a while, between political parties.
Members of all political persuasions were invited to sit on the sofa in a show of unity.
High-end furniture manufacturer Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, winner of the 2013 “Best” MADE: In America award, handcrafted the sofa.
“Our manufacturing facility is located in High Point, North Carolina, where many, many companies have had to shut down or give in to overseas manufacturing,” said Gregg Arrington, VP of Operations.
The Couch in Congress project was done in partnership with MADE: In America, a non-profit educational organization based in Washington, D.C. Although there wasn’t a scramble to do so, a few members did pose on the sofa at the Rayburn Building foyer during the three hours it was displayed there last week. No political deals were reached—but it was a sofa, not a love seat.
MADE: In America, chaired by James DeLorbe, aims to foster a business climate conducive to the free exchange of ideas and information for the purpose of revitalizing and sustaining the competitiveness of American commerce and industry in a global economy.
MADE: In America is comprised of business leaders, public policy makers, educators and citizens dedicated to designing and articulating a new way to promote American enterprise.
Just after Valerie Jarrett made a surprise announcement that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a special White House event in honor of the Points of Light awards in July, there was another surprise, this time a shocker: Karl Rove and Donna Brazile did a nonpartisan swing dance together on stage.
The scene was at the DC convention center where Points of Light held its 4-day Conference on Volunteering and Service attended by several thousand registrants.
Also at the conference Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delved into the criticism heaped upon him from some quarters about the grateful way he greeted President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year shortly before the election.
"What do you expect me to do when the president showed up? Do you want me to wear my Romney sweat shirt?" he said he told friends.
"When people come to help, no one asks if they are Democrats or Republicans," he said. But he acknowledged ..."there are some who will see politics in everything....I think people who engage in partisan politics in times like that don't understand why they were put in office in the first place," said Christie.
"It never crossed my mind to act any other way...my people were in crisis. When you see a 20-foot wave in front of you," there are no Republicans or Democrats.
Speaking from the stage on Wednesday, Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, said the event at the White House will be held on Monday, July 15. The POL awards are presented to individuals who embody the spirit of helping others through voluntary service and commitment. The White House event will honor a POL winner, yet unnamed, who will be number 5,000 in the history of the organization.
In 1989 President George H.W. Bush’s inaugural address invoked the visions of a “thousand points of light” and invited the nation to take action through service to their fellow citizens. Points of Light, with Michelle Nunn as CEO, is now the world’s leading volunteer service organization.
To a person, Wednesday’s conference speakers gave remarks which underscored that regardless of political parties, people do come together to volunteer for the good of others. “Service unites the most unlikely pairs,” laughed Jarrett, referring to other conference speakers, Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News and Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile.
O’Reilly reiterated that when it comes to volunteerism, there is no red or blue divides -- a term used to describe political affiliations. Among other endeavors, O’Reilly is involved with the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists men and women who have been injured in wars, and Fisher House Foundation which donates “comfort homes” to military families who must travel to get medical treatment.
As if giving action to Jarrett’s words, Brazile and Karl Rove, senior advisor to President George W. Bush and a Fox News analyst, did an impromptu swing dance on stage before joining in a panel with Obama political strategist David Plouffe, who underscored that whether in politics or deeds of good will, volunteers like to be appreciated and thanked for their actions.
Neil Bush, chair of the Points of Light’s board of directors and son of George H.W. Bush, noted that all governments are being stretched thin, and so “as governments give less, we need to do more.”
He also amused the audience by relating an earlier encounter with a man he ran into at a conference hotel.
“You look awfully like a Bush,” the man remarked.
I’ve heard that before,” Bush replied.
“Oh,” the man said: “That must really piss you off.”
On Thursday, singer John Legend entertained conference goers at a supper.