1963 march participant Sylvia Lieberman

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'I was excited about the possibilities'

Sylvia Lieberman

I attended the March on Washington 50 years ago because I thought everyone should be there. The speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was long overdue in this country. I had just graduated from college, and was one month from my 22nd birthday. And I was excited about the possibilities. We were going to make changes in education and improve opportunities for everyone.

I thought my generation was going to make a difference. We were going to change the world. I really believed that, heart and soul. What a laugh!

Today, schools are being closed here in Philadelphia, and who is being affected? Minorities and the poor. We’ve gotten to the place where things are as bad as they were 50 years ago, or maybe even worse. It is so disheartening, and I don’t understand why people can’t see the forest for the trees. I can’t understand why people can’t see that education is tied to employment. If you close schools, you’ll eventually have higher unemployment. And high unemployment leads to an increase in crime.

I’m going to the march again. I simply can’t NOT go. The march was a monumental moment in my life and in history. I’m hoping against hope that this year’s march will change things.


Sylvia Lieberman is a retired member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and a union activist.