Thousands gathered on the Mall to attend a rally and participate in a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The rally included speeches from Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others. It was followed by a march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.
Here are the live updates and dispatches we posted on Saturday. You can also find the conversation on social media here.
The rally and march on the Mall have concluded, so we’re wrapping up our live coverage for the day. Head here to read more about the March on Washington and the anniversary events.
A gallery of photos taken on the Mall:
Crowds made their way to the memorial honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:
Near the reflecting pool, Balinda Stevenson Cunningham, 62, of Southwest Washington, pushed her way through the crowd carrying an old sketch of ancestors.
The sketch contained an image of Cunningham’s grandmother — when the grandmother was a 3-year-old child — standing on a share-cropping plantation in North Carolina. In the sketch stood, Cunningham’s great grandmother and grandfather, who she said died on the Titanic. The white woman in the sketch, she said, was the plantation’s mistress.
Cunningham raised the sketch in its golden frame and pointed it toward the Lincoln Memorial. “I brought it today,” said Cunningham who wore Kente cloth and a large gold key around her neck, “because I believe in ancestors who I leaned on for strength. I do this so the ancestors could be here. This is ground we are standing on is hallowed ground.”
— DeNeen Brown
One of the last speeches at the rally was given by Martin Luther King III, who urged the crowd not to become complacent. He told them to fight to restore voting rights as well as push for economic justice and more jobs. He said, “The dream is far from being realized.”
In his speech, King’s voice echoing the soaring tones of his father:
“Five decades ago, my father Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stood upon this hallowed spot. And the spirit of God spoke through him and summoned a nation to repent and to redress the shameful sins long visited upon its African American brothers and sisters…Fifty years ago, he delivered a sermon on this mountain, which crystallized like never before the painful pilgrimage and aching aspirations of African Americans yearning to breathe free in our own homeland. But Martin Luther King Jr.’s utterings of 1963 were neither forlorn laments of past injustices nor a despairing diatribe of cruel conditions of the day. No, indeed, his words are etched in eternity and echo through the ages to us today were a tribute to the tenacity of an intrepid people who, though oppressed, refused to remain in bondage. Those words of Martin Luther King Jr. were a clarion call to all people of goodwill to rise up together to make this nation live out the true meaning of its creed and to perfect within us a more perfect union.”
King said he was humbled to stand in his father’s footsteps but urged the crowd to do more than celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
“I, like you, continue to feel his presence. I, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness,” King said. “The admonition is clear this is not the time for nostalgic commemoration. Nor is this the time for self- congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.”
— DeNeen Brown
As Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other leaders of the march disbanded near 15th Street and Jefferson Drive, the civil rights icon reflected on the day’s events.
“It is good to see so many people so many years later,” Lewis said. “So many people are hopeful, optimistic and I am gratified. We are going to make it.”
The pursuit of civil rights had been a family affair growing in Chicago up for June Carter Perry. She remembers her mother in 1955 insisting on taking her to pay respects before Emmett Till’s open casket in Chicago. As a sophomore at Loyal University, she was selected by her local NAACP chapter to accompany officials to the 1963 March on Washington.
“I was so excited to hear Dr. King speak in person,” said Perry, 69. On Saturday, she participated in the anniversary of the March by rallying for D.C. statehood. “His speech was a promissory note and we’re still here today because that note hasn’t been filled.”
A former Ambassador, Perry served as a career diplomat with the State Department before her retirement in 2010.
“I’m here for future generations,” Perry said. “Not just for African American youth but for all whose civil rights have not been filled. We have to make sure that note is filled for them in a peaceful way.”
Some roads will be reopened soon around the National Mall, according to the District Department of Transportation. Multiple streets were closed around the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall for today’s events. In addition, the Lincoln Memorial is open to the public again.
Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, was among the last to speak from the Lincoln Memorial. Leading the crowd in prayer, she asked people to hold hands with those standing nearby. She urged those gathered to create a “freedom force” that would press for what her father described as a “beloved community.”
Afterwards, as the march began, strangers who had been grasping hands turned and hugged one another, wiped tears from their eyes, and then said goodbye and went their separate ways.
Most marchers snaked around the reflecting pool and toward the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., but many peeled off from the crowd. Hundreds took the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, taking in the view of the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument beyond.
Larry Johnson and his family, including 9-year-old triplets, rested on the marble steps of the Federal Reserve along Constitution Avenue. Johnson, who teaches criminal justice at Empire State College in New York, said that he was heartened by the turnout Saturday.
While the most pressing issues aren’t the same as they were in 1963, he said, they’re just as urgent. “Fifty years later, it’s not sitting in the back of the bus, it’s now justice in the courtroom and injustice in the streets,” he said.
Todd Endo, whose Japanese forebears immigrated to America in the 1890s, spent the first three years of his life inside a World War II internment camp in rural Rohwer, Ark.
“As Japanese Americans, our civil rights were violated during World War II,” Endo said.
After graduating from Oberlin College as a History major, he joined members of the Japanese American Citizens League for the 1963 March on Washington. At 21, he was the youngest of the 35 in the group.
“It was packed, people were dangling their feet in the reflecting pool,” said Endo, 71, of Amissville, Va. “But there was camaraderie and friendliness. Everybody said hello to each other.”
Endo returned to the Mall Saturday to carry again a half-century later the banner of the Japanese American Citizen’s League. He’s the last surviving member of the original 35.
The 1963 March changed the course of his life, he said. “The March told me that I’m more of an activist than academic,” Endo said. He abandoned his study of History and decided to forge a career in education, where he helped integrate schools in Prince George’s County and worked with high school drop outs.
“Fifty years later there’s still that dream that’s not realized,” Endo said. “You never get there. . . [But] that sense of unity and working together and peacefulness has carried on and remains influential”
As crowds made their way to the Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, many went to the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Tidal Basin:
As marchers continue making their way to the Washington Monument, it’s a good time to look back at the original march five decades ago. Did you or someone you know attend the 1963 march?
If you’re following along with our coverage of today’s events and you have a memory to share, please head here.
At least some portion of the marchers have made it to the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as you can see in this C-SPAN screenshot:
— Mark Berman (@themarkberman) August 24, 2013
A sea of people are now moving between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Here are a few glimpses of the scene on the ground:
— Mosheh M. Gains (@Mosheh83) August 24, 2013
— Jenna Çapulcu Pope (@BatmanWI) August 24, 2013
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) August 24, 2013
Marion Barry remembers standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gazing at a sea of humanity assembled along the reflecting pool.
“It was a hot, sunny day in August, much like today,” said Barry, a D.C. council member from Ward 8 and the former D.C. mayor. He was graduate student at the University of Tennessee and had spent his summers volunteering with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
He can still recall the fervor that reverberated through the crowd gathered before King as he delivered his “Dream” address. “The people were uplifted and energized,” Barry said. “I was proud of Dr. King for expressing our frustration, our dreams and our hopes.”
Barry spent the morning of this year’s anniversary at a rally on the Mall for D.C. statehood, seeking for the city to be renamed New Columbia as the 51st state.
“I came here in 1963 and Washington wasn’t free,” Barry said. “We’re still not free.”
— Hamil Harris (@HamilHarris) August 24, 2013
The crowd gathered for the rally at the Lincoln Memorial has begun their march. Participants are going to march by the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as they travel to the Washington Monument, where the day’s gathering will come to an end.
As we wait for the march to the Washington Monument to begin, here’s a video showing some of the people gathered at the Mall for today’s rally and march:
After a parade of speeches, the rally at the Lincoln Memorial has wound down and the gathered crowd is on the move.
Next up is a march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. We’ll continue to bring you dispatches and photos from the march as it moves along the Mall.
As the rally came to a close in front of the Lincoln Memorial, CNN was airing an interview with D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).
Barry emphasized that statehood for the District of Columbia remains a major issue. During a discussion that touched on the 1963 march as well as Barry’s own history, he said there’s still “work to do.”
“The march did sort of spur us on,” Barry said. But he said civil rights efforts continued immediately after the march and that work continues to this day. Barry said he hopes that people aren’t “complacent” after today’s march.
With the rally winding down, Sharpton welcomed the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till to the podium.
“As I said before, Trayvon Martin was my son,” Sabrina Fulton said during her brief remarks. “But he’s not just my son. He’s all of our son, and we have to fight for our children.”
The crowd on the Mall will be marching soon. Before the rally ends and they depart for the march, here’s another look at the scene around the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool AND BEYOND:
The Rev. Al Sharpton, the talk-show host whose National Action Network is co-sponsoring the march with other labor and civil rights groups, began his remarks at the rally by discussing the importance of those who came to the event in 1963 and how they paved the path for those present today.
Talking about “equal justice under the law,” Sharpton recalled King’s dream and spoke of the import of King’s landmark speech five decades earlier.
“He didn’t stand here and discuss the pain,” Sharpton said. “He didn’t stand here and express the anger. He said in the face of those that wanted him dead that no matter what you do, I can dream above what you do.”
Sharpton also discussed what lies ahead. “Today, we face continuing challenges,” he said. Among the issues he listed: fighting to preserve voting access, improving access to jobs and combating gun violence.
He shared this photo on Instagram shortly before speaking:
The march served as a venue for advocates of all stripes. Abortion rights and gay marriage proponents stood shoulder to shoulder with labor activists seeking a higher minimum wage, teachers pressing for education funding and others protesting stop-and-frisk policies and stand your ground laws.
One memorable knot of marchers wore green felt hats, crafted in the style of Robin Hood and meant to support the so-called Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
Such a tax would bring revenue needed to improve schools, social services and crumbling infrastructure, said Joseph Sparks of Rockville. And banks and stock traders can afford it, he said. “The idea is increasing opportunity for everybody,” Sparks said.
Martin Luther King III, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, talked about the importance of standing where his father stood five decades earlier.
“I, like you, continue to feel his presence,” he said. “I, like you, continue to hear his voice…The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.”
King spoke out against increased voting restrictions, decried the number of African-Americans living below the poverty line and facing unemployment and spoke about “the fierce urgency to act now.”
“We know the dream is far from being realized,” he said.
Mississippi native Minnie Wright said she and her sister traveled to Washington in part to honor their late mother, who taught them not to internalize the racism they experienced as children growing up in the Deep South.
“There were certain places that ‘knew how to handle their blacks,’ where you knew to keep your eyes straight ahead” because eye contact with whites would spark confrontation, said Wright, 56.
She remembers watching the original march on a black and white television –understanding at six years old that it was a big deal, but not understanding why. Now Wright is a deaconess at her United Methodist church in Alabaster, Ala., and she is working toward a master’s degree at Vanderbilt University’s divinity school.
She came to Washington as part of a group of Methodists from across the country, who plan to follow the march with a series of workshops on the nations’s high incarceration rates. “We’re carrying on the dream by continuing the dialogue on injustice,” said Wright.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon who was the youngest speaker at the 1963 march, received a standing ovation when he approached the podium at the Lincoln Memorial.
Speaking of giving blood “on that bridge in Selma, Alabama” to fight for the right to vote, he highlighted the importance of voting rights. He called for full voting rights for all and also talked about the need for immigration reform.
He also focused on the importance of pushing for civil rights going forward.
“I got arrested 40 times during the 60s, beaten and left bloodied and unconscious,” he said. “But I’m not tired…I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight.”
— Alicia Plerhoples (@aplerhoples) August 24, 2013
Congressman John Lewis: "young people must make our country what it is meant to be!" #marchonwashington50 Lewis spoke 50 years ago at 23.
— Steven Olikara (@StevenOlikara) August 24, 2013
Just heard John Lewis at the March on Washington. "We must not give up, give in, or get out!" #mlkdream50
— Sybil Walker Barnes (@SybilWB) August 24, 2013
Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, spoke about the importance of lifting up young leaders to fight for freedom and justice.
“If you do nothing else, if you take nothing else from my heart and what I said, stand your ground for freedom and justice and do whatever is necessary — that’s legal — to move this country forward,” she said.
Evers-Williams spoke about remembering history while looking forward.
“Never become so depressed that we think we can’t make it,” she said. “Fifty years ago, Dr. King and so many others helped to show us the way and give us the strength to move froward. I stand here today thankful to be 80 years of age and see all of those changes that have taken place and realize that there were people like Dr. King and so many others and, yes, Medgar Evers, who gave a life and lives for justice and equality.”
Myrlie Evers Williams speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Dream come true. Followed by John Lewis #MOW50
— Anna F. Kaplan (@AnnaFKaplan) August 24, 2013
Newark Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker was greeted with applause when he spoke, my colleague Carol Morello reports from the Mall. Even more applause followed when he paid homage to the generations before and discussed the need to pay it forward.
“And so my generation, we cannot sit back and think democracy is a spectator sport,” Booker said. He spoke about the importance of trying to do something even if you cannot do everything.
Speaking to the gathered crowd, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke of being at the original march in 1963 and hearing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
She talked about King having a memorial on the Mall, among the monuments to presidents and Founding Fathers, but discussed how his words still resonate today.
“He would also want us to be fighting for voting rights,” Pelosi said, stressing the importance of making sure every eligible vote can be counted.
— Reena Flores (@ReenaJF) August 24, 2013
The election of President Obama was made possible the sacrifice of millions, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said at the rally. Bu the said too many still despair and face crippling poverty.
“Too many have no voice in our democracy because they’re told they have no valid I.D. with which to vote…We will not rest. That is our pledge today. It was our pledge in 1963. And a half-century later we renew that pledge,” he said.
Raging Grannies protesting @Marchonwashington pic.twitter.com/4yJF9XcCBK
— DeNeen Brown (@DeNeenLBrown) August 24, 2013
The Raging Grannies, a “disorganization of older women who sing out for peace, justice and sustainable environment for all grand children,” raised a banner and sang:
“We’re Raging grannies and it’s turning our hair gray.
To think that men in suits are taking our rights away.
We thought this fight before and now we fight again today! Not one step back! No way! ….
So we will get together young and old and black and white, the unemployed and union folks and work with all our might to realize the dream and fight to keep our hard earned rights!”
Vicki Ryder, 71, a Raging Granny who attended the march in 1963, said, “What I am raging about today is I have to do this all over again. Voting rights in North Carolina are being seriously suppressed.”
Ryder, who is from Durham, said she was arrested in May protesting the state legislature’s actions on redistricting. “That’s how they get their seats. They steal them.” Crowds gathered as the grannies sang. A black man in a red cap asked for a copy of the lyrics and sang along with a white granny in a straw brim hat. Ryder said the group was organized in Canada in 1987 and now has 100 “gaggles” throughout Canada and the states.
— DeNeen Brown
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., speaking at the rally at the Lincoln Memorial, praised the people who marched in 1963.
“As we gather today, 50 years later, their march is now our march,” he said.
He went on to say that the marchers today stand on the shoulders of those who came before, adding that without the millions before him, he would not be attorney general and President Obama would not be in the White House.
“We must remember generations who carried themselves on a day-to-day basis with great dignity in the face of unspeakable injustice,” he said.
The rally continues at the Lincoln Memorial, with a crowd stretched along the Reflecting Pool listening to an array of speakers.
— Aaron Gilchrist (@nbcaaron) August 24, 2013
— Sonya Horsford (@SonyaHorsford) August 24, 2013
— A • R y e © (@angela_rye) August 24, 2013
— AFSCME (@AFSCME) August 24, 2013
— YWCA USA (@YWCAUSA) August 24, 2013
Honored to speak at 50th Anniversary of March on Washington! pic.twitter.com/7IrBaRyKvO
— Vincent C. Gray (@mayorvincegray) August 24, 2013
Mayor Vincent Gray led a rally of about 2,000 city residents seeking for the District to be renamed New Columbia as the country’s 51st state.
The crowd gathered at the D.C. World War I memorial on the Mall before marching along Independence Avenue and chanting “statehood now.”
Waving white and red D.C. flags, those gathered on the Mall cheered as Gray and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s congressional representative, spoke about lobbying for statehood.
“We are here to demand justice,” Gray said. “Justice has been delayed and denied to the District of Columbia for decades.”
Gray and Holmes Norton both spoke about attending the 1963 March on Washington. “We must no longer be the city holding the marches while our rights are ignored by the marchers,” said Holmes Norton.
Annette Odom and her friend Lielonnie Lewis of Oakland, Ca, coincidentally planned their vacation in Washington during the march.
“My husband told me there was a celebration of Martin Luther King’s dream speech,” said Lewis, an insurance agent who was a toddler in 1963. “We made it a priority to be here.”
Odom, a retired grocery clerk who was 6 during the original march, said she grew up hearing about King and civil rights.
“My parents told us to come to the TV whenever Dr. King or President Kennedy spoke,” she said. “We understood it was for us, and everyone. Not only black people, but everybody.”
— Carol Morello
Events like today’s rally and march typically cause a spike in Metro ridership, as the combination of large crowds and street closures send many to public transportation.
Today is no exception. Metro reports that as of 10 a.m., after trains had been running for three hours, rail ridership had reached 77,700. That’s more than double the ridership logged by the same time last Saturday (34,000).
— Nick Gulotta (@NickGulotta) August 24, 2013
Jobs and the economy are as much a part of the march’s agenda as was the case 50 years ago.
Dedrick Muhammad, director of the NAACP’s economic department, said there has been considerable progress over five decades, counterbalanced by failure.
“On the positive side, we have had a decrease in poverty among African Americans and an increase in people who are middle class and higher,” he said in an interview. “Nowadays you do see African Americans at all levels, in all industries. The negative is that we don’t have the same level of progress that we had, even in the ’90’s. In the recession, we had a disproportionate loss in wealth, jobs and the ability of people to get back into the job market.”
— Carol Morello
Children’s civil right to an excellent education was a theme that ran through many of the speeches Saturday.
Several Prince George’s County teachers, sitting in the shade near the reflecting pool, said they came to spread the word that schools that serve poor children need more resources if they are going to deliver on the promise of public education.
“The 500-pound gorilla in the room is equity in funding,” said Kenneth Haines, president of the Prince George’s County Education Association, a local chapter of the National Education Association. “The schools of the poor do not look like the schools of the affluent.”
That message was echoed on stage by MSNBC television talk show host Ed Schultz, who urged the crowd to “pay attention to the schools in your backyard to make sure their students have the opportunities they deserve.”
Here’s a selection of photos taken on the Mall:
Did you or someone you know attend the 1963 March on Washington? If you’re following along with our coverage of Saturday’s events and you have a memory to share, please head here to share your story.
Meanwhile, here’s The Post’s front page after the 1963 event:
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 24, 2013
Crowds have filled up the area around the Reflecting Pool, packing onto the dual expanses of grass stretching out in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
John Franks, 66, was one of dozens of St. Louis residents who traveled to Saturday’s event on a bus sponsored by a coalition of black trade unions.
The trip to Washington took more than 17 hours. “That’s a good little bus ride,” said Franks, who spent his career working as a manufacturer for the company now known as Boeing.
He was a teenager in Mississippi when King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech. Franks remembers that day less vividly than the moment years later when he learned, in the middle of a night shift at the aircraft manufacturer, that King had been assassinated. “It was a low blow to the nation,” said Franks.
Like so many others, he said he came to Washington on Saturday because he wanted to be a part of history. And he hopes that Americans of all races can support the message of the march.
“You want jobs, you want justice and you definitely want your voting rights,” said Franks. “There’s nothing in that agenda that every red-blooded American shouldn’t be standing up for.”
“We weren’t alive 50 years ago when it happened,” said Brianna Patterson, Northeast regional director for National Action Network Youth Move. “Fifty years from now, we can look back and tell our children we were at the 50th anniversary March on Washington… we are keeping the dream alive.”
Patterson, 20, who lives in Prince George’s County, said young people are linking with their predecessors for this.
“We want to make sure our voices are heard…We say, ‘We are the youth. We are speaking out. We want policy makers to look at us. We won’t take injustices they give to us. And we won’t tolerate the policies they make about us without us being at the table,'” Patterson said.
— DeNeen Brown
The Rev. Stephen C. Holton, an Episcopal priest from New York City, said the Trayvon Martin verdict was one sign of continued racial injustice in America.
“It’s clear that we need to keep on marching,” said Holton, 53, who had joined a contingent of marchers from the Washington National Cathedral.
Holton said he was moved by the Trayvon Martin case to launch, along with clergy from other faiths, a new effort to bring arts and recreation opportunities to young men in Harlem and other parts of New York.
“These young men, who are so vulnerable to violence, can really be transformational leaders,” said Holton. “That’s the religious hope.”
Charles Randolph-Wright remembers hearing Dr. King’s speech in the basement of his cousin’s house in York, S.C.
“That was the center of activity, not just for our family, but all the budding activists in town,” Randolph-Wright recalled. “I was young, and did not realize a movement was starting, but I knew something changed from that day.”
Randolph-Wright, now a playwright in residence at Arena Stage, said he is able to live his dream in his work because of King.
“I recently directed the Motown musical on Broadway where you see Berry Gordy recording Dr. King’s speeches, the speeches I listened to with my relatives, sitting in that basement,” he said. “Those records, that basement gave me permission to dream.”
Now, 50 years later, he is headed to the Mall to say, “Thank you.”
— DeNeen Brown
What Fred Jackson of Mitchellville remembers of the 1963 march that he attended as a young teenager was the sense of togetherness. Not so much this time.
“It’s still early,” said Jackson, a retired information technician, as the program got underway. “But it doesn’t have the unity…Now, it’s this group here, that group there. We’re all here for the same purpose. But it’s a different feeling.”
Jackson, an African American, noted that the 1963 gathering was more multiracial. “There are people from all races,” he said of Saturday’s predominantly African American crowd. “But just a few sprinkled here and there.”
— Carol Morello
Brian Crutcher, 31, a native of Huntsville, Ala., drove from Odenton to ride Metro to the march with his friend Ken Wyatt, 46, a native of Abilene Texas. Wyatt walked to the Metro station from his home in Riverdale.
“This march is not just for me. I am picking up where they left off 50 years ago,” said Wyatt, who works at the Library of Congress.
Crutcher, a contractor for the Department of Defense and the singles ministry leader at the Georgia Avenue Church of Christ, said, “I wanted to be part of this event not just because of its historical significance but because it is fundamental to my spiritual beliefs.”
He and Wyatt are part of the youthful throng headed to the grounds between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument to attend the march.
— Hamil Harris
Clarence Ellington came to the march with his two children and the spirits of his ancestors. Though he was three years from being born in 1963, he grew up hearing about the march and how his father struggled living in South Carolina.
“I’m here for my kids, so they can step up and know how my father, my grandfather and my great grandmother struggled” said Ellington, who works for a delivery company.
His 17 year old son, also named Clarence, said he felt he would have missed an important event if he hadn’t come. “It’s my responsibility” as an African American, he said. “It’s something close to home”” said Tiffany, 23, his sister. “It’s just a short drive for us to have the chance to experience this together.”
— Carol Morello
Dozens of construction workers and NAACP members gathered downtown at the D.C. headquarters of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, preparing to join the stream of marchers headed south toward the Mall Saturday morning.
Lana Shells, 69, was part of a contingent of 47 people who traveled from Norristown, Pa. Fifty years ago she didn’t make the trip to Washington because she couldn’t afford to miss her shift as a ward clerk at the state hospital in Norristown. Now president of her local NAACP chapter, Shells said not enough has changed since 1963, pointing to voter ID laws and deepening economic inequality as key issues facing black Americans.
“I didn’t think after Dr. King that I’d be here crying over the same issues,” Shells said, adding that she hopes today’s march brings new energy to the modern civil rights movement. “I think we went to sleep and we need to wake up,” she said. “All people, poor, black, Hispanic.”
The Post’s Emma Brown tweeted these photos of the crowd traveling toward the rally:
Crowds streaming down 17th Street to the reflecting pool pic.twitter.com/jeSJFYZxcC
— emma brown (@emmersbrown) August 24, 2013
Jesse Jackson spotted near the WWII memorial pic.twitter.com/DKtdeo0me5
— emma brown (@emmersbrown) August 24, 2013
Lisa Clark and Rob Bennett left New Stanton, Penn., at 2 a.m. “He drove, I slept,” said Clark, a lawyer, as she snapped a photo of Bennett near the Lincoln Memorial.
Both wore black T-shirts with the logo Christian Left and carried Placards reading “protect voting rights.” “That’s why we’re here,” said Bennett. A dentist who was just a child in the 1960s and said he has always felt he was born a decade too late. The couple said they were last in Washington for the Rally to Restore Sanity staged by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
“I have friends who are in the Tea Party,” said Clark. “We share friendship. We don’t share views.”
— Carol Morello
Patricia Bent and Sonya Ransom arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:45 this morning and laid out their folding chairs next to the Reflecting Pool. The two friends from Charlotte N.C. were among a few dozen marchers who were in place as the sun lit up the memorial’s facade and technicians ran through sound checks on the stage where a prayer service would be held.
“We can’t take steps back,” said Bent, wearing a T-shirt with Trayvon Martin in a hoodie and the words “we want justice.” “People fought too long for voting rights. People died. We can’t sit back and let their work have no meaning.”
— Carol Morello
Don Thomas rode a greyhound bus this morning from Pittsburgh to gaze for the first time at the memorial dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s so beautiful, a work of art,” Thomas said.
He arrived in Washington at 4:15 a.m. and walked from Union Station to take pictures of the King statue at sunrise. As the light began to glimmer off the Tidal Basin, Thomas stood alone before the carved stone, snapping photos of King’s face illuminated at dawn.
At home, Thomas keeps tapes of King’s speeches and posters of the civil rights leader adorn his walls. Thomas still recalls sitting with his mother, father and uncle to watch on television as King spoke on that August day in 1963.
“I’m here to celebrate the anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King,” said Thomas, 61. “We feel grateful for what he’s done for the civil rights movement.”
– T. Rees Shapiro
The rally and march along the Mall on Saturday are expected to draw very large crowds. As with any major event like this, your best bet for going to the Mall is Metro.
Here are some tips:
- The only way for participants to get to the rally at the Lincoln Memorial will be by traveling west from 17th Street NW near the World War II Memorial toward the Reflecting Pool, officials said.
- Metro will be open from 7 a.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday, with trains running on a regular Saturday schedule. Expect to encounter crowded trains as thousands head toward the Mall and be ready for packed stations around the event.
- There is track work scheduled at the Franconia-Springfield station at the end of the Blue Line, so trains will leave that stop every 24 minutes rather than every 12 minutes.
- Participants heading toward the Mall could use the Farragut North, Farragut West, McPherson Square, Smithsonian or Arlington Cemetery stations. Those stops will likely be crowded, though, so riders could also consider the L’Enfant Plaza or Archives stations.
- The Arlington Memorial Bridge, which connects Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, will be closed to vehicles between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. But it will remain open for pedestrians, so Metro riders can get off at the Arlington Cemetery station and walk to the Mall.
- Standard-size bicycles will not be allowed on Metro between 7 and 10 a.m. on Saturday.
- Metro posted a guide for riders that could be helpful for visitors. You can find it at http://wapo.st/MetroMarchGuide2013.
In the days leading up to Saturday’s events, The Post has published several stories looking back at the 1963 event and contemplating the atmosphere around the anniversary events.
Here are some of the stories:
- “Events marking 50th anniversary of March on Washington to emphasize dreams unfulfilled”
“[T]he Supreme Court’s recent ruling that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the stark racial divide among Americans after a Florida jury acquitted the man who fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin have spurred debate about how much has changed and what more there is to do.”
- “Women — nearly left off March on Washington Program — speaking up now”
The sisters were almost forgotten. Women were ubiquitous in the trenches of the civil rights movement, but were nearly left off the official program of the historic 1963 March on Washington.
- “Civil Rights leaders lift up prayers marking March on Washington”
They stood side by side in Mount Airy Baptist Church in Northwest Wednesday night, the aging Civil Rights leaders and the young people who benefited from their struggle. Black and white and Hispanic. Men and women and children.