Marchers started arriving on Saturday to join together at the National Mall, many coming ahead of time so they could secure their spot for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The NAACP was found passing out signs that were similar to those from the 1963 event, although these expressed some reasons for the march now five decades later. One sign read, “We March to Protect Voting Rights.” According to organizers, there will be around 100,000 people that will participate in the event.
Set to be the precursor to the anniversary of August 28, 1963, the march will be led by Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. After speeches have been presented, the participants will walk the half mile from the Lincoln Memorial to the 2 year old memorial, commemorating the anniversary and the legacy that remains. On the day of the anniversary, the president will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He will stand in the same place that Dr. Martin Luther King stood during his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Obama will be joined by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The churches and groups in the area have been asked to ring bells at 3 PM to mark the exact time when Dr. King had spoke. Last Friday, a coalition of black leaders had provided what they said was the 21st century agenda for the nation since it marks the civil rights event that brought about the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The march from 1963 brought in around 250,000 people to the National Mall. It also provided the concept of nonviolent demonstrations on a massive scale.
On the build up to the anniversary march, the leaders have been honoring and acknowledging the progress of civil rights that was encouraged by the 1963 march. However, they have also acknowledged what they feel is an attack on that progress. They have cited the Supreme Court ruling that erased an anti-discrimination provision in the Voting Rights Act, continued unemployment among African Americans, and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It has been said that the percentage of unemployed African Americans in the country is around double the amount of unemployed Caucasians.
The organizers of this year’s march have hoped that the event will inspire people to educate themselves about the issues they see that are contributing to the modern civil rights struggle. Those who are participating hope that it will provide more awareness within the community about what’s going on, as well as commemorating the original march that had such a powerful impact on everyone throughout the country and throughout the world. They hope that if the march was able to empower people and give them hope decades ago, it will still be able to serve the same purpose now. Ultimately, the participants hope to remind everyone of Dr. King’s goals of creating equality through his demonstration and through educating people.