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Reflections on the March on Washington

By Julian Mack
Guest Column

On August 27, I had the honor of attending the 57th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This anniversary event was held by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network.

This event comes amidst the largest Civil Rights protest to occur in American history after a worldwide uprising following the public execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Accenting the events was the grotesque shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI., shot in the back seven times by Kenosha Police Department in front of his children. This subsequently led to a protest in which Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump supporting 17-year old, traveled across state lines to murder two protesters and maiming another, under the guise of protecting property. These events came off the heels of the Republican National Convention that repeated the problematic trope of racism not being a current problem in America. To say the least, racial tensions have been running high.

Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, social distancing was enforced: free masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer and umbrellas were given out to everyone in attendance. As I arrived, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty publicly demanded the passage of the John Lewis voting rights act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Congresswoman Beatty represented the 54 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, channeled the words of John Lewis in remembering the life of Emmitt Till. In Lewis’ speech he articulated how that awakened his inner activist. Senator Harris drew a parallel to the power of Breonna Taylor’s name that has awakened a new generation of activists.

Yolanda Renee King channeled the spirit of her grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with an impassioned speech telling the older generation that her generation would effectively achieve her grandfather's dream. During her speech I was video chatting with my oldest daughter.

My oldest daughter is the same age as Yolanda who is the same age my mother was when the original March on Washington took place in 1963. It was humbling, inspiring and frustrating. It was beautiful to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream still continuing to be fought for, but it was also unnerving to know how much farther we as a nation still have to go.

As the event was about to transition from the rally to the March to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, there were consecutive speeches by families who were victims of police violence. Family members representing Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey and countless other families of victims of state-sanctioned violence gave quick speeches pleading for community members to not forget their names and to continue the fight for true systemic change.

At that moment I recommitted myself to ensuring my daughters wouldn't have to stand in the same spot 57 years from now fighting the same battles as our ancestors and the battles many of us are still fighting today.




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/10/20 09:27:51 -0400.

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