To mark the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, thousands converged on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday. They said the US has yet to fulfil Martin Luther King’s dream as the country remains fractured by racial inequality
It’s been 60 years since the historic March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King issued his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
On Saturday, as a precursor to the actual anniversary of the March on Washington on the 28th of August 1963, thousands descended on the US capitol as part of an event convened by the Kings’ Drum Major Institute and the Reverand Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
A host of Black civil rights leaders and a multiracial, interfaith coalition of allies rallied attendees on the same spot where as many as 250,000 gathered in 1963 for what is still considered one of the greatest and most consequential racial justice and equality demonstrations in US history.
“We have made progress, over the last 60 years, since Dr. King led the March on Washington,” said Alphonso David, president and CEO of the Global Black Economic Forum. “Have we reached the mountaintop? Not by a long shot.”
‘Not a commemoration, a continuation’
Inevitably, Saturday’s event was shot through with contrasts to the initial, historic demonstration. Speakers and banners talked about the importance of LGBTQ and Asian American rights. Many who addressed the crowd were women after only one was given the microphone in 1963.
Yolanda King, the 15-year-old granddaughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., roused marchers with remarks delivered from the same spot where her grandfather gave his historic speech.
“If I could speak to my grandfather today, I would say I’m sorry we still have to be here to rededicate ourselves to finishing your work and ultimately realizing your dream,” she said. “Today, racism is still with us. Poverty is still with us. And now, gun violence has come for places of worship, our schools and our shopping centres.”
After the speeches, the crowd marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Several leaders from groups organizing the march met Friday with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the civil rights division, to discuss a range of issues, including voting rights, policing and redlining.
SPresident Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will observe the march anniversary on Monday by meeting with organizers of the 1963 gathering. According to White House officials, all of King’s children have been invited to meet with Biden.