ISNA Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

American Muslims join our fellow citizens in commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I have a Dream Speech” and the March on Washington 50 years ago. It was a speech that offered a bold new vision for racial equality in America and helped usher in a new era. King inspired us to dream of a day in which people would be judged for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. King echoed what the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, envisioned in his own farewell sermon in which he preached that blacks were not better than whites and whites were not better than blacks, and that character alone distinguishes one person from another.

As Americans we can take pride in the strides we have made toward realizing King’s dream in our workplaces, schools, and homes. But, this is also a time for us as a nation to reflect deeply on where we continue to fall short and how we leave this dream yet unfulfilled. Racial injustices are evident in every major category of social inequality in this country from poverty and homelessness to prison populations and high school drop-out rates. At this critical juncture in our history, ISNA renews its commitment to work with interfaith and civic partners in striving for social justice in all its forms. We will not stop until the prophetic teaching of human equality is fully realized.

This year ISNA is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. Our story is part of the larger American story. There would be no advancement of American Muslims without the civil rights movement. And Muslims have made important contributions at every step along the way in achieving greater civil rights. It is because of this common story that ISNA’s upcoming convention in Washington DC over Labor Day weekend draws its inspiration from King’s dream. Our theme is “Toward a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community.”  The “perfect union” and “beloved community” continue to motivate us today as ideals that need to be embraced if we are to confront the challenges of our age. We invite everyone to join us at the convention as we address issues of common concern and reflect on the long road ahead.

King often preached that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” It is with this hope and optimism that we celebrate this momentous 50th anniversary and look to building an even more harmonious America for future generations to come.