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March on Washington celebrates 50 years

James W. Wade III | 8/28/2013, 8:48 p.m.
Rev. Al Sharpton, along with Martin Luther King III and other notable activists, marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo by James W. Wade III

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Martin Luther King III, and the NAACP, held another March on Washington this past Sat.

This event featured a roster of speakers including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Oh), Rev. Jesse Jackson and Julian Bond.

No matter how much you might want to compare this march to the 1963 march, it would be hard to gauge exact number of people but an estimate 200,000 attended.

These great orators stood firmly on the steps where Dr. King stood, outlined what they said were unfulfilled promises in preserving voting rights, quelling gun violence, reducing economic disparity and achieving equal protection under the law.

Many speakers spoke about the diversity in this march.

King III paid tribute to his father’s legacy.

“Five decades ago, my father stood upon this hallowed spot and crystallized like never before the painful pilgrimage and aching aspirations of African-Americans yearning to breathe free,” said King III.

Almost every speaker spoke about our country’s race relations but King III was on point. He talked about his father, but drove home a real issue. “Sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that, far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest and to even murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.”

He also called for ‘Stand Your Ground’ self-defense laws to be repealed in states where they have been enacted.

But the keynote speech came from the Rev. Sharpton, who outlined the day in 1963.

“Fifty years ago they came to Washington so we could come today, in a different time and a different place, and we owe them

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for what we have today. Today, we face continuing challenges. I am especially outraged by the court ruling on voting rights and by the efforts of state legislatures around the country to erect new voting restrictions, such as voter identification laws. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs and you can’t take it from us. I promise we will march in each state mulling voting restrictions,” Sharpton said.

He also spoke to our men and youth. “Don’t disrespect your women. Make it clear that you know that Rosa Parks wasn’t no “ho” and [voting rights activist] Fannie Lou Hamer wasn’t no [female dog]. We need to give them dreams again, not to worry about sagging pants, but sagging morality. If we told them who they could be and what they could do, they would pull up their pants and get to work,” Sharpton added.

Congressman Lewis, who was the youngest speaker in 1963 and maybe one of the only speakers alive from the original March, talked about the importance of marching. He told everyone to continue marching on behalf of equality.

“Fifty years later, we cannot wait. We cannot be patient. We want our jobs and we want our freedom now... We cannot give up. We cannot give out,” Lewis stated.