WASHINGTON – Thousands of people took part in a march in Washington on Friday to protest racism, commemorating a 1963 march in which human rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his landmark talk “I Have a Dream”.
“You may have killed a dreamer, but you can’t kill this dream,” human rights leader Pastor Al Sharpton told a crowd Friday.
Activists and politicians have given speeches, including Democratic Alliance vice-president Pamela Harris, who appeared in the video. Many refer to US Ambassador John Lewis, a civil rights activist who spoke at the 1963 march who died in July.
Speakers emphasized the importance of voting in the November election and the link between black rights, disability rights and LGBT rights and the fight against gun violence, among other causes.
The mile-long march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Memorial, a hot, humid day in the US capital, comes in the middle of a series of racist letters held by two major incidents in which Black men were shot by police.
Protests across the country began in May, sparked by the assassination of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt down for about nine minutes.
Protests began this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot another African American man, Jacob Blake, several times in front of his children. Although Blake survived, lawyers said he was paralyzed.
“We will not be your humble slaves. We will not be a foothold in oppression, ”said Letetra Widman, Blake’s sister.
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, also appeared on stage. At one point he stopped picking up, apparently feeling overwhelmed.
“I hope George was there to see this,” he said.
Allisa Findley, the sister of Botham Jean, an African American man killed in Dallas by an off-duty police officer who said she thought her apartment was hers, said: We cannot allow our brothers and sisters to be reminded of just how they died. ”
‘TOO LITTLE TOO LATE’
James Jarell, a business owner from Delaware, said the recent protests by corporate and professional athletes were not enough. “For people who live in fear of being shot by the police every day, this is very small, it is too late,” he said.
Bella Ridenoure of Arlington, Virginia said President Donald Trump should have acknowledged the frustrations of blacks when he delivered his speech Thursday that closed the Republican National Convention.
“How painful is it for President Trump to admit racism?” said a 43-year-old civil servant. “Instead, he was playing politics and now he makes it look like we are criminals who want money back from the police.”
Sharpton’s National Action Network, which organized the event, took steps to protect protesters from the coronavirus epidemic, in which Black people suffered from inequality. On one occasion, the speaker directed those in attendance to stand on their own two feet to ensure that there was enough space between them. Workers wipe the floor and microphones between the speakers.
Black people are more likely to become ill and die of the virus and lose their jobs as a result of the economic downturn, statistics show.
A memorial service is also scheduled, which will include Rev. William Barber, a prominent human rights activist and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. It will also include human rights activists, politicians, musicians, and entertainers.
Kerrigan Williams, founder of Freedom Fighters DC, said a group of activists planned their own march later on Friday with the aim of promoting a larger agenda that included changing police departments and other public safety programs.
Separately, the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of Black activists and organizations, organized a “Black National Convention” on Friday night, following national meetings of Democratic and Republican parties two weeks ago.