NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Thousands of people descended on the nation’s capital on Friday for a major march on the anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington.
Capping a week of protests and outrage over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, civil rights organizations from across the country brought the fight to Capitol Hill, near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – the very spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” address.
The rally is focused on police brutality, racial injustice and voter protection.
March organizers said they would be handing out masks, gloves and sanitizers to protect everyone’s health and only allow 25 people on each bus.
One group from Milwaukee skipped buses altogether and joined together to march 750 miles to Washington, D.C.
A number of New Yorkers also participated in the rally, piling on to buses at the Barclays Center and Bryant Park early Friday morning to make it in time for the rally.
“I think it’s important to go down to D.C. and show that Black Lives Matter and what’s happening in America right now – the same thing that’s happened for hundreds of years – is unacceptable,” Hillary Henry, of Gramercy, told CBS2 News.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was among some locals who were heading to D.C. on Friday and even was given the chance to address some attendees.
“I want to give space for Black people in the crowd to say they are not okay,” he said. “We are like the nameless grandmothers who got in the streets and said, ‘We will make you live up to what America says she is.’ We are here. We’re not going anywhere.”
Early on, the march was shaping up to be the largest political gathering in Washington since the coronavirus pandemic began.
According to the Associated Press, many attendees also were showing up wearing T-shirts bearing the image and words of the late Rep. John Lewis who, until his death last month, was the last living speaker at the original March on Washington.
They gathered just blocks from the White House and listened to Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights icon, who underscored the importance of the march, saying they needed to “create a different consciousness and a different climate in our nation.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton planned the event with the National Action Network. He is expected to deliver a keynote address that shows the urgency for federal policing reforms while decrying racial violence and demanding voting rights protections ahead of the November election.
Following the commemorative rally, participants will march to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in West Potomac Park, next to the National Mall, and then disperse.
Later in the evening, the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 Black-led organizations that make up the broader Black Lives Matter movement, will hold its virtual Black National Convention.
The convention will coincide with the unveiling of a new Black political agenda intended to build on the success of this summer’s protests. The platform will deepen calls for defunding police departments in favor of investments to healthcare, education, housing and other social services in Black communities, organizers said.