Let's play catch up on all the March's highlights
(@marchonwash2020 / Instagram)
Today, the March on Washington has been reincarnated. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the March on Washington occurred in-person and virtually from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
About 50,000 people were estimated in attendance in-person. If you weren't able to watch the march live, but would still like to witness this historic day, you can virtually attend with us at the link here.
What’s the significance of the march?
The Rev. Al Sharpton announced the march during the eulogy of George Floyd, emphasizing that the march would be led by the families that “know the pain” of losing their loved ones to the police and law enforcement officers.
Other than the fact that this is a modern-day March on Washington from the one held exactly 57 years ago today, it is a march of the same potency for the Black people who have unjustly died at the hands of law enforcement officers. Labeled as the “Get Your Knees Off Our Necks” march, this is followed by months of protest around the world and especially across the country, spurred by the murder of George Floyd. The purpose of this march is to focus on and promote criminal justice reform and holding police liable for their actions.
Who is scheduled to speak?
The event is being headlined by Rev. Sharpton, who will be accompanied by M.L.K’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III. The event itself will be led by the NAACP in collaboration with the National Action Network.
Most importantly, families of those who have lost their lives to law enforcement spoke. Speakers include relatives of Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Marqueese Alston, to name a few.
All of this during a pandemic?
Unlike the RNC earlier this week, this event was socially distanced with crowd fencing and masks will be required. If an attendant did not have a mask, masks were handed out as well, along with the situating of hand-sanitizer and temperature checking stations.
For those of you who missed out, here are the highlights:
Many of the march’s speakers encouraged voter participation in the upcoming presidential election
Rev. W. Franklin Richardson said, “This will be a mockery if we do not go to the polls, it will be a disgrace! We must grasp what our ancestors fought for!” He then smiled and said, “God Bless You and I hope to see you at the Victory Celebration.”
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty said, “Silence is not an option, Black people face a symbolic chokehold every time we go out, every time we breathe.” She then encouraged the crowd to chant “Go vote! Go vote!"
Senator Cory Booker said:
“We stand here in the legacy of the dream. The dream that MLK lifted up. We are here today because the dream is not done. The cries across the country let us know that we have work to do. We are on the shoulders of giants but we must step off the shoulders and lead ourselves. I am a living witness, a personal witness, that we are ready for this moment. There is no mountain we cannot move and there is no root of racism that we can’t pull up. Wake up America!” Fist up, he said, “Breonna, I’m representing you right now”
Several speakers encouraged the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.
If passed, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would no longer allow states to change their election laws without federal approval, according to the New York Times. Many Democrats have argued that many Southern states in particular abuse these freedoms to make it harder for communities to vote, and therefore increases voter suppression.
The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, would increase police accountability for misconduct, “enhance transparency and data collection” and “eliminate discriminatory policing practices” if passed.
Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez spoke of Elijah McClain and encouraged the passage of John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.
“Did we fight back for justice, did we fight back for Black Lives?” he said. “We are all fighting back, but our fight does not end here”.
Kamala Harris Made A Virtual Appearance
The Democrat vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris virtually attended to talk about the legacy of the late John Lewis.
“For Lewis, the brutal murder of Emmet Tillis is what shook loose the activist inside of him,” she said. Harris then quoted Lewis in saying, “Emmet Till was my George Floyd, the Breonna Taylor, the Sandra Bland”.
Several of Martin Luther King Jr’s relatives spoke
The granddaughter of MLK, Yolanda Renee King, said:
“My generation has already taken to the streets, peacefully, with masks, socially distanced. We will be the generation that moves from me to we. Once and for all, now and forever!”
(I’m not going to lie, as she speaks I feel tears swelling in my eyes, but my mom's watching, so I have to pretend all these tears are from a yawn. I feel grateful for King as she asserts the same grace and strength that her grandfather had.)
She then looked at the crowd and shouted, “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what looks like!” The crowd repeated it back, and the ring of the voices settled in the air.
Her father, Martin Luther King III, spoke afterward.
“We are socially distanced, but spiritually united, we are taking our struggle to the streets, and on social media,” he said. “If we move forward with passion, we will be able to continue the movement that was started in the 1960s.”
King III recognized essential workers, citing his father in saying that their jobs have just as much dignity as any, if not more. He asked the audience to register to vote, encourage others to register to vote, demilitarize the police, and pledge to get into good trouble. Nonviolence does not mean passive action it means peaceful resistance.
“I come as a protestor, I come as a victim," he said at the end of his speech. "My daddy was killed. My grandmother was gunned down a couple of years later in the church. But I'm so thankful my grandaddy and uncles and aunties taught me about love. I refuse to let them reduce me to hatred. We’ve got to come together. The love that seeks nothing in return, the love that is unselfish. You love them because you know God calls them to do that. Do it in love, let's keep on keeping on!”
Rev. Al. Sharpton moved the audience
He started his speech with the classic saying, “No justice, no peace” and continued to say, "We are showing with our bodies that enough was enough."
Rev. Sharpton then spoke out against police brutality in saying:
“We come like Dr. King 57 years ago, saying we are tired of broken promises. We’ve heard you denounce looting, what we haven't heard is you denounce shooting. We’ll never let Americans forget what you’ve done, call their names!”
He closed with “We all should leave here committed to keeping this dream alive.”
Numerous relatives of shooting victims spoke
While each one was on the stage to speak, the crowd enveloped them with the chants of their fallen loved ones; To Breonna Taylor’s relatives, the crowd shouted: “Say Her Name” and Breonna Taylor. To George Floyd’s relatives, the crowd shouted “I can’t breathe” and “Say his name.”
Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, thanked those who have been supportive of justice for Breonna and asks the crowd to stand together and vote.
Fionnes Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, said in the midst of tears that he’s fighting for anyone who loves their lives.
“Our leaders need to march with us,” he said. “My brother George is looking down, and he’s thankful for every one of you.”
Bridget Floyd, George Floyd’s sister, said "How will the history books remember you, how will they remember you. My brother cannot be a voice we have to be the voice, we have to be the legacy, thank you from the Floyd family.”
Jacob Blake’s sister, Letetra Widman, said catering to America’s delusions is no longer an option. We will not dress up genocide as police brutality, she said.
This is the last season of the police version of How To Get Away With Murder. Every one of the speakers spoke words of truth. Drive to the polls, wear a mask, socially distance and vote the fucker out of office.
Anushka Dakshit is a Staff Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She likes to read, watch really long films, listen to old Bollywood, and listen to sad music when it rains. She wants to use her writing to discuss the nuances of womxnhood and culture and is passionate about social justice, femininity, and words that bring her catharsis. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org