The March on Washington means many things to many people, but for those of us who were born well after the event, the occasion runs the risk of resembling just another footnote in a textbook. Reading about Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words is one thing, but hearing them in person is something else entirely. Nonetheless, the March on that fateful day in 1963 has meaningful prescriptions that can still resonate today.

The March on Washington represented much more than ‘Jobs and Freedom.’ It was not only a push for equality, but a demand for equality at a time when it was inconvenient to do so. The repression of African Americans in civil society for so long is not something to be brushed aside as a historical note. Deprived of their basic, natural rights, it was not timely to demand the recognition of those rights. Indeed, it would have been much easier to wait until Congress eventually came around to its senses on the matter. That reasoning would not satisfy Martin Luther King Jr.; equality is a cause that does not wait.

Yet that cause, the movement of equality, has gone into remission of late. For many people the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the Left’s destruction as well. Any critique of the capitalist system had disappeared with the Cold War’s conclusion. Unfortunately the American Left bought into that line of thought and not long thereafter a duopoly between both political parties enacted destructive policies throughout the 1990s that sent the radical Left into hiding. Suddenly, liberal policymakers were more interested in partnering with conservatives than sustaining and expanding the measures called for by Martin Luther King Jr. so many years ago.

From shady welfare reforms to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the American Left was dwindling from any principled political stances and instead crawling toward ‘the consensus’ that dictates Washington’s policies. Partisanship is still considered an outbreak of disaster while bipartisanship is the solution around the corner. Meanwhile, conservatives in public discourse successfully coined ‘liberal’ as a curse word. If you are a liberal then your heart is simply too large and your brain is too small, or so the adage goes. Further, to label oneself a socialist is to commit social and political suicide. After we defeated the ‘Godless Communists’ these developments all coincided together, to the Left’s detriment. Individualism became the norm, solidarity was eschewed, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream began to fade.

Today, 50 years after the March on Washington, the American Left has an opportunity to better organize and reignite itself. When over 200,000 people gathered in 1963 to march for equality it was neither comfortable nor seasonable. Today, again, it may not be convenient. Disenfranchised voters may find it inconvenient, however, when they are unable to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the next election. With the enactment of draconian voter suppression solutions still in search of a problem, American minorities are in danger of losing the basic right upon which thriving democracies depend. Soldiers may find it inconvenient when they are unable to collect their paychecks in Afghanistan after learning their government has been shut down because a few Republicans decided to defund the Affordable Care Act. Workers may find it inconvenient that they continue struggling to make ends meet without a living wage. Students may find it inconvenient that they are saddled with debt after graduation as opposed to a bright future.

The Left can succeed only when it stands for principle even when it becomes inconvenient to do so. The March on Washington did not merely last one mile. In fact the March is ongoing. A march only ends when it reaches its destination.