Actors Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard read the “I Have A Dream” speech, faith leaders of all stripes provided reflections and Al Sharpton and Elder Bernice King brought the house down at Thursday morning’s “Unity Prayer Breakfast” in Denver marking the 45th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Speaking early in the lengthy program – which didn’t end until close to lunchtime – Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Va., recalled that while legendary Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and many Jews were active in the movement, others “struggled with the implications of the message.”
He then told the story of how Jacob “slept upon the lonely mountain,” and when he awoke,” he felt God had been there and he didn’t know it. The story reminds “us of the power of dreams,” he said, wishing everyone that when they lay their head down to sleep after a day for working hard for “collective healing … may God give you dreams.”
Sharpton urged black leadership to “not segregate the Obama campaign” and say his presidency would be an achievement just for their community. “This is an American victory,” he said.
And Jewish Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) – one of the few speakers who adhered to the time he was allotted – reflected on his time as a “Freedom Rider” and said the lesson he learned was that “ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”
Barack Obama has spoken of retoring the partnership of blacks and Jews forged in the civil rights movement, and one of the breakfast’s speakers, movement veteran Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), believes he can be successful in that quest.
“I think he can make a great deal of progress, restoring and recreating that unbelievable solidarity that existed on a national level,” adding that in his hometown of Atlanta and elsewhere, the two groups have a strong bond. Lewis said that Obama’s lack of connection to the civil rights movement would help him in that effort.
“It’s liberating,” he said. “His makeup would give him the capacity.”
It was an emotional morning for Lewis – discussing with another reporter how Obama would be accepting the Democratic nomination for president 45 years to the day from the March on Washington brought tears to this eyes.