By Robert J. Hansen | OBSERVER Staff Writer
In 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew around 250,000 people who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Six decades later, tens of thousands marched again, this time with Martin Luther King III as organizers say the United States has yet to make good on its promises of equality and economic justice for all of its citizens.
“We returned to the Lincoln Memorial to stand beside the leaders of our movement who are on the frontlines of the fight for justice, jobs & freedom. I will always stand in solidarity with the unions who have stood with us in the fight for peace, justice & equity,” MLK III said on Twitter.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network (NAN), one of the groups that organized the rally, said 60 years ago, Martin Luther King talked about a dream. “Sixty years later, we’re the dreamers.”
Police brutality, gun violence, poverty, the loss of voting rights and the curtailment of reproductive rights were just some of the problems the dozens of notable speakers mentioned during last Saturday’s event.
Sacramento’s Stevante Clark, whose brother Stephon Clark, was shot and killed by police in 2018, marched with Rev. Sharpton as part of NAN in dedication to his brother and against police brutality.
“I don’t think you can honor the life and legacy of Stephon Clark if you don’t honor the life and legacy of Dr. King,” Clark said, “If Dr. King were alive, he would be addressing the same issue of police brutality.”
Clark was moved by Rev. Sharpton’s speech.
“Something that Rev. Sharpton said, ‘We’re the dreamers and those guys up in Fulton County jail, those are the schemers,’” Clark said. “It puts everything in perspective of what we’re moving for and what we’re doing.”
Sacramento pastor Dr. Tecoy Porter, who organized the music for the March’s anniversary three years ago, said the event was supercharged with civil rights energy.: “Lots of excitement and hope in the air because you saw people coming from across the country, even the world, come together for a common purpose.”
Along with Clark, the families of Tyre Nichols, a Sacramento native killed by police in Nashville, Tennessee was also at the march as was George Floyd’s family.
Rev. Porter, the pastor of Genesis Church and the founding president of the Sacramento chapter of NAN, said this march was different in that it was more than just a “Black thing” but a collaboration between the Jewish, Latinx, AAPI, business, labor and LGBTQ communities.
“It was a mix of cultures, faiths and ideologies, all for the purpose of seeking social justice, equality and equity being moved forward in our nation,” Rev. Porter said.
He noted how the country is at a crossroads.
“People were returning from the first march with their children and their children’s children if you will,” Rev. Porter said. “Looking forward to getting things done even 60 years later.”
As a Black father and husband, with Black nieces and nephews, Porter said it’s important to keep fighting to close the wealth gap, for voting rights and reproductive rights.
“My children, who are in their 20s, they may end up in the next couple years having fewer rights than I did growing up as a child,” Porter said. “It’s alarming how evil the world can be and how entrenched and misleading it is. It’s going to be 60 years that we continue to fight for the realization of what America promises.”