Thousands of protesters gathered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial to call for overall criminal justice restructuring and racial equality while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address from the same location.

Planning began in June after the funeral of George Floyd. Organizers said they wanted to highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd while also mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus with strict safety protocols.

The march — dubbed the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington — began with speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which was followed by a coordinated march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park.

Here are some significant developments:

  • As the Rev. Al Sharpton took the podium, an area kept socially distanced since 7 a.m. became crowded with protesters who held up their phones to record his speech.
  • Martin Luther King III followed his young daughter by saying that while this march marks the anniversary of his father’s famous American Dream, “We must never forget the American nightmare.”
  • The memory of late civil rights icon John Lewis loomed large, his influence palpable in almost every corner of the demonstration. It was rare for a speech to end without an ode to the late congressman or a reference to his iconic quote about “good trouble.”
  • Joined by other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans police officers from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants. The bill has already passed the House.