Thousands gathered today in Washington, DC to commemorate the iconic 1963 civil rights March on Washington and in protest of police brutality. The March on Washington in 1963 is the site Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” address, and yet, 57 years later, there is still rampant racial inequality in the country that needs to be addressed. Black people in the United States continue to suffer at the hands of the current criminal justice system and the march taking place today is but a small reminder of the injustices still occurring. 

Planning for the march began in June after the highly publicized death of George Floyd that occurred in Minneapolis. Organizers of the event explained that they wanted to highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd of thousands while maintaining strict safety protocols to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. With the police shooting of Jacob Blake still fresh and taking place in the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and brown people, the 57th anniversary of the March could not arrive at a better time.

Who’s In Attendance? 

Dubbed the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington, the organized assemblage began with speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The families of Black American victims of police violence were invited to speak including the relatives of Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner. 

Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., addressed the crowd and shared that his own father had joined the March in 1963. “We’re tired. I’m tired of looking at cameras and seeing these young Black and Brown people suffering. We’re going to hold court today. We’re going to hold court on systemic racism,” he said to the crowd, then led them in finding the country “guilty, guilty, guilty.”

They will also be joined by civil rights leader Reverand Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and Yolanda Renee King, the son and granddaughter of the late Dr. King. Democratic vice-presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris addressed the crowd virtually, while congresswoman Ayanna Pressley paid tribute to activism from Black Americans in generations before. "We are Black with a capital B," she said in her speech. "We are the manifestation of the movement. We are a symbol of social, political, and cultural progress."

The Scene from Washington 

Up to 50,000 people were anticipated to attend the event and were encouraged to social distance. Face masks are required to march and masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be provided at various locations on site. Temperature checks were also conducted and wristbands were given out to keep track of everyone in attendance. Check out this footage of the scene at the National Mall. 

A noteworthy presence not seen in attendance at the day's events were police officers. Protestors from the scene noted that there were not many officers patrolling the area. 

What Are Protestors Demanding?

In addition to general racial equity, speakers at the event called on the Senate to pass police reform legislation named after George Floyd. Other demands included ending police violence, dismantling systemic racism, and ensuring access to voting for Black communities across the country. 

As racial inequity continues to permeate through nearly every system in the country, protestors will not stop fighting until measurable changes are made. Best said by Martin Luther King Jr. 57 years ago, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”