Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Tens of thousands of people rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Reps. John Lewis of Georgia and Nancy Pelosi of California, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Sybrina Fulton and Martin Luther King III addressed the crowd of about 100,000 on current civil rights issues, including the stand-your-ground and voter ID laws.
Lewis, who spoke at the original rally where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, voiced his opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling against a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the two landmark offshoots of the historic march in 1963.
The Supreme Court decision in June led to the imposition of voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas. Lewis sees the ruling as “taking away the right to vote away from us.”
Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, recalled her participation in the 1963 rally, urged the crowd to continue fighting for voting rights, wage equality, workers’ rights and better policies for working mothers. Holder said King’s struggle must continue in light of the said laws that restrict voting access.
Sharpton, one of the march organizers, called for a new “America of equality, of justice, of fairness.”
Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager shot dead last year by a Hispanic village watchman, said, “We have to fight for our children.”
King III, eldest son and oldest living child of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paid tribute to his father and the forerunners of the modern civil rights movement. He said the death of Martin shows that there is still racial profiling.
After the speeches, the crowd marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will be at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday to observe the 1963 Washington March’s anniversary minus the crowd. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will be with Obama during the ceremony.