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MFSA Sponsors March on Washington Events
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Volume VIII Issue 15                          

8 August 2013




This past Sunday evening I was invited by a friend from church to a screening of the film, "The House I Live In." This powerful documentary chronicles how the "war on drugs" captures the stories of those on the front lines - from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge - and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America's longest war. Giving rise to America's prison-industrial complex, this battle against drugs has disproportionally affected people of color and poor white people.

After the film, a Skype interview was conducted with director Eugene Jarecki in which he shared his purpose for creating the film - personal narrative of a close family friend intersected with the "issues" of mass incarceration and the "war on drugs."

In a few weeks, Washington, DC will be abuzz with participants commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs, Justice, and Freedom. Many might remember Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech or Marian Anderson singing "God Bless America." Others might remember what history has often forgotten - Bayard Rustin, a gay man, as the chief architect of the March on Washington.

But this August, just like that summer day 50 years ago, those who gather are gathering to do more than remember. We are gathering to educate ourselves about the realities of racism and white privilege; we are gathering to speak out and act on for-profit prisons, gun violence, and denial of the right to vote; we are gathering to say to the powers that be that a dream might have been deferred, but it must not be denied!

Consider joining the MFSA staff and volunteers at one of the marches, our teach-in, or our worship service during the last week of August. If you can't make it to Washington, we'll provide a litany for use in your congregation or at a local gathering for solidarity in our next eNews.

As Dr. King once stated, "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny." May we stand firm in our commitments to justice for all people.
Grace and peace,  
Chett Pritchett 
Interim Executive Director 
MFSA Sponsors Events Surrounding 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs, Justice, and Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC - August 8, 2013 - The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) announces opportunities for commemoration, celebration, and education during events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs, Justice, and Freedom.
On August 28, 1963, the Historic March on Washington, organized by labor, civil rights, and religious organizations, was the largest rally for human rights in the history of the United States. The march commanded national attention and is credited with changing the tide of public opinion, leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Music and speeches filled the air, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial inspired the marchers.

This August there will be two commemoration marches. The first will be on Saturday, August 24 on the National Mall. Information about this gathering can be found at Another will take place on Wednesday, August 28, with a focus on jobs and justice. More information about Wednesday's march can be found at MFSA's office at 212 East Capitol Street, NE in Washington, DC will be open both days from 7am-4pm to provide hospitality to those participating in the marches. Water, restrooms, and a bag drop will be available.

On Tuesday, August 27, MFSA is sponsoring two events focused on education and action. At 4pm at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, a Teach-In will be held on the topic "A Culture of Suspicion: The Criminalization of Race in America." The final panel is still in formation, but will include Rev. Gil Caldwell and Charles Thornton. Rev. Caldwell is retired United Methodist clergy. He was a member of the Massachusetts Unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a founding member of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. Mr. Thornton serves as the Director of the Mayor's Office for Returning Citizens Affairs for the District of Columbia. 

At 7pm, MFSA is sponsoring a worship service at Historic Asbury United Methodist Church in downtown DC. InProcess, an African American women's acapella quintet from the Washington, DC area, will provide music. The Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, Associate Dean of Community Life and Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Theology, will be the guest preacher. Dr. Lightsey is ordained in The United Methodist Church, and serves as co-chair of the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group of the American Academy of Religion and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Reconciling Ministries Network.

"Having grown up in the South during the 1960s, I remember the great appreciation my parents had for Dr. King, and their great saddness at his assassination," said Dr. Lightsey. "These many years later, I am happy to be able to participate in these events to commemorate the March on Washington and believe our time together will encourage and inspire the continued work of social justice activism."

"This is a very exciting opportunity for people of faith, especially United Methodists, to come together, learn, and take action. The issues surrounding the March of 50 years ago are still prevalent today: racism, white privilege, access to good jobs and fair wages, and voting rights," said Chett Pritchett, MFSA's interim executive director. "We still have work to do to bring about God's vision of a reconciled world."

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God's justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people's rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

MFSA's Postcard Campaign
As part of the March on Washington events, MFSA invites you to participate in our postcard campaign, which calls Congress to hold the values of equality and fairness close as they make decisions in regards to the Voting Rights Act. The campaign will encourage Senators and Representatives to ensure the explicit rights of citizenship remain meaningful and intact.

The postcard will be part of the offering at the August 27 worship service, but they will also be available for individuals and congregations to complete and return to the MFSA office by September 3rd. During the first day of the fall session, MFSA staff and volunteers will hand deliver the postcards to the House and Senate offices.

If you'd like to coordinate the signing of postcards in your church or community, please email and let us know how many you'd like to receive! (Remember, each person can fill our three postcards!)
Are You Marching?? Helpful Tips
If you're coming to the events in Washington, DC, here are a few helpful hints for making the experience a positive one:

TIP ONE: Stay hydrated (bring a water bottle and refill it whenever possible). This leads to part two of this tip: Always know where the closest restroom is! If you're on the National Mall, you'll likely be able to duck into a museum and use the public restroom. Sometimes you'll have to use a port-a-potty. Local businesses will likely not let you use their restrooms without having made a purchase. The MFSA Office will be open during the events of Saturday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 28 to assist you with TIP ONE.

TIP TWO: If you're traveling in a group, have a meet-up location and cellphone numbers handy. It is important to know more than "3rd and New Jersey Ave" when you're in DC. You have to know the quadrant, too. As well, since there will be many people using the cellular grid, texting might be a more efficient way of communicating.

TIP THREE: Know what it means to be "gathered without a permit." If your group is more than twenty people with banners and chanting, you're protesting without a permit, so know what the boundaries are for  Stay on sidewalks, especially if you're on the grounds of the US Capitol. No undue stopping or encumbering vehicular or pedestrian traffic, pay attention to police officers, and be kind to others.

TIP FOUR: If you're taking Metro, remember two things: STAND RIGHT and "Our doors are not like elevator doors." Standing to the right on the Metro escalators ensures that folks walking up the escalator stairs can have a clear path. It really does make a difference. And once you're in a Metro station, don't try running for a train when the doors are closing. Really don't try to stick your arm, purse, leg, sign, or anything you'd like to keep in the door. It won't open like an elevator does. In fact, it'll jam the door and everyone on the train will have to offload and wait for another train.

Welcome to Washington! March, sing, dance, and pray! Just don't get arrested or lose a limb.



ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
FacebookSocial Media and the March on Washington

At least one thing will be different from the March on Washington 50 years ago: social media.

If you are in attendance and solely use Facebook - take lots of photos. Document signs, the sheer numbers in the crowd, and keep your eyes out for important figures in the fight for justice and freedom!

If you're attending and you are a tweeter, use and follow the hashtag #MLKdream50

If you're not in attendance, you can take the opportunity to share photos, blogs, and videos. You might share your favorite MLK quotation from his "I Have a Dream" speech - or look through archives of photos from the 1963 March on Washington and reset your profile photo from August 24-August 28.

Most importantly, you can email your Congressional representative and let them know you stand for fair and just access to jobs and voting, and that you stand with those in Washington, marching once again.
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003