Why I’m Marching

by Zachary Langway | March 7, 2012 7:14 am

I’m in Alabama this week, marching along the Selma to Montgomery highway that 47 years ago marked one of the most important moments in our nation’s history.  400 strong, we marched today starting at the point where Viola Liuzzo was killed in 1965 for daring to be a white woman marching for civil rights.  Now, I jumped at the chance to be here, and you might be wondering why someone would volunteer to march nearly 10 miles a day when they could be sitting at their desk, sipping coffee and following the march on Twitter.

I could say I’m marching because it’s my job.  I could say I’m marching because it’s my responsibility.  But I am marching because it is, above all else, unequivocally right to do so.

So many of us take rights for granted.  We think, “I have voting rights.  I have working rights.  I have legal rights.”  We become entrenched in this idea that rights are here for us, as individuals, that rights exist to serve “me” or the “we” that are exactly like us.  Quite frankly, rights are rights, and what is right for me is right for all.

When I was down here in Montgomery in December, working with the Immigrant National Convention, I joined immigrants from Alabama and across the country in marching against HB56.  And while all of the prep work, all of the online planning, and all of the pre-march storytelling felt powerful and real, it wasn’t until I was marching that I realized I was actually marching for my own rights too.

Black, white, Latino, or none of the above, we may have been marching to oppose one law, but we were all here for one thing: to ensure that no person would be denied what is just and fair based on a single characteristic. That’s why I am here again this week.  I’m marching so that we don’t forget the struggles of the past, and so that we have strength for the struggles ahead.  I’m marching because rights are not owned by an individual or even a group, and because the denial of your rights today paves a path for the denial of my rights tomorrow, and my children’s rights down the road.

I’m marching because it is right.  And I can’t wait to march the next ten miles tomorrow.

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