We were living in Williamstown Massachusetts where my father was a junior professor -- his first teaching gig. I was five months old. My brother, just over two years old, was still openly stinging from injustice of my birth, aka the perceived need for the addition of a supplemental child to the family, and extremely unhappy that it was my turn at my mother's breast. To say that my mother, in the midst of a postpartum depression (for which I've always felt guilty despite know exactly how preposterous and ridiculous that is) was overwhelmed would be significant understatement.
Still my father, who dutifully came home between classes, to distract his first born so I could eat several times a day, knew that "March for Jobs and Freedom," as it was originally called, was history in the making. Not only was he a historian by training, but his specialty and the basis for his thesis (now at the Obama White House thanks to the grown up version of that unhappy two year old boy) was “The Emancipation Proclamation."
His affinity for Black people in America and their struggle in this country was both deep and wide. I think as an immigrant, he identified with the plight of Black Americans and understood the vast difference between his family's choice to come to American with their family and wealth it tact and the wretched history that brought most Black people (or their ancestors) to America. I believe that fundamental inequity drove him in professional and personal life. One of the things I remember my father saying most often is “life isn’t fair,’ but despite that his frequent recitation of that fundamental truth, he spent most of his life trying to even the playing field to best of his ability. Which is why, fifty years ago, he left his young family to march in lock step with and for a people he admired, and a country he hoped would one day soon learn to share his admiration, and his passion for equity.