Fiftieth Anniversary of March on Washington more diverse

Freddie Allen | 8/29/2013, 2:37 p.m.
The 50th Anniversary for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom celebrated a more diverse coalition and needs, but ...
From left: Sabrina Fulton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., National Urban League President Marc Morial, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, his wife Arndrea and daughter Yolanda, Washington City Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Rev. Jesse Jackson (behind MLK III) start the Anniversary March on Washington at Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at the memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. presented his I Have a Dream speech during the March on Washington. Jose Luis Magana

“As we fight for voters’ rights, as we fight for jobs, as we fight for immigration, as we fight for equality, let us not try to limit the coalition,” Sharpton said. “We need all of us together.”

Sharpton said that the bogus arguments about “well, they didn’t suffer like us” or “they aren’t as bad as us” are irrelevant today.

“The most insane thing for sick people to do is lay up in the hospital debating about who is the sickest,” Sharpton said.

Sharpton added: “We all need to unite and get well together.”

Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, echoed Sharpton’s appeal to a broader audience.

“All of us, it doesn’t matter if we’re Black, White, Native American, Asian American. It doesn’t matter if we’re straight or gay. We are one family. We are one house, we all live in the same house.”

Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of SCLC and one of its past presidents, talked about the intervening years between 1963 and now.

“Everything has changed and nothing has changed.” Lowery said. “We came to Washington to commemorate, but we are going home to agitate.”

Myrlie Evers-Williams, former board chair of the NAACP and wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers, implored marchers to stand their ground for justice and equality.

“I ask you today to flip that coin and make stand your ground a positive meme for all of us who believe in freedom and justice and equality and that we stand firm on the ground that we have already made and be sure that nothing is taken away from us because there are efforts to turn back the clock of freedom,” she said.

Jesse Jackson, who attended both marches, recalled the time he spent as an aide to King.

“His [King’s] mission was to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed and he was determined to remain permanently maladjusted until all of God’s children had a meal for their bodies, education for their minds, and health care for their infirmities,” Jackson said.

Families from across the nation attended the march together, the tragedy of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the underlying consequences of racial profiling heavy on their hearts.

Bernadette Jones, 45, attended the march with her husband, Garon Jones Sr., 46, and her sons, Braxton, 10, and Garon Jr., 13.

“We’re raising two boys and to know that this society continues to be a society based on injustices and to think what happened to Trayvon could’ve easily happened to our own boys, we wanted to give them an opportunity to experience this and to be a part of history and for us to share this together as a family,” said Bernadette Jones who traveled from Monroe, N.J.

Looking past the march, she said that each day counts and that she wanted to make sure that her sons know that they have a role in this society and to know what they do, moving forward, will determine their destiny.