The young granddaughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave an impassioned speech that vowed her generation will ‘fulfill my grandfather’s dream’, as the families of black men and women killed by law enforcement demanded justice as they spoke before 50,000 people at the March on Washington’s 57th anniversary.
Relatives of families including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor joined civil rights activists and the family of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. nearly six decades after he gave his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ address.
They descended upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to protest racial inequality, police brutality and call for criminal justice reform amid nationwide protests that have continued for three months.
And they gathered on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a black man – this time, 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday – sparking days of protests and violence that left two dead.
Around 50,000 Americans are expected to descend upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington event on Friday
Yolanda Renee King (center), the 12-year-old granddaughter of Rev. Martin Luther King, spoke before thousands at the March on Washington event
Tamika Palmer (center), the mother of slain black woman Breonna Taylor, demanded justice and social reform while speaking at the March on Washington event on Friday
Rally attendees will advocate against racial inequality, police brutality and call for criminal justice reform on the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ address he made at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963
The event was organized by Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and the families of black Americans killed by law enforcement
Pictured: Marvin Alonzo Greer (left) and Cheyney Mcnight (right) gather at Lincoln Memorial to attend the March on Washington
Earlier in the day, Yolanda Renee King, the 12-year-old granddaughter of King Jr., provided hope as she declared younger Americans will end the struggles of their grandparents’ pasts.
‘We will be the generation that moves from ‘We’ to Me,’ said Yolanda.
‘We are going to be the generation that dismantles systematic racism once and for all, now and forever. We are going to be the generation that puts a halt to police brutality and gun violence.
‘We stand and march for love and we will fulfill my grandfather’s dream.’
Yolanda added that the swath of issues facing Americans, including the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality, have helped foster a new generation of leaders.
‘I didn’t know what would hit us in 2020: a pandemic that shut our schools and put our young lives on hold, more killings of unarmed black people by police, a tax on our right to vote, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression that we learned about in school and more extreme weather than we’ve ever seen before,’ she said.
‘But great challenges produce great leaders. We have mastered the ‘selfie’ and Tik Tok. Now, we must master ourselves.’
Yolanda then recalled the word’s of her grandfather and his predictions in the fight for racial equality.
‘Less than a year before he was assassinated, my grandfather predicted this very moment. He said we were moving into a new phase of the struggle. The first phase was civil rights, the second phase is genuine equality.
‘Genuine equality is the reason why people all across the world, from New Zealand to New Jersey. He said we must not forget the days of Montgomery, we must not forget the sit-ins.
‘We must not forget the freedom rides, the Birmingham movement and Selma. Papa King, we won’t!’
Rev. Al Sharpton, whose civil rights organization, the National Action Network, planned Friday´s event, said the objective of the march is to show the urgency for federal policing reforms, to decry racial violence, and to demand voting rights protections ahead of the November general election.
‘We’ve got to create a different consciousness and a different climate in our nation,’ said Martin Luther King III, a son of the late civil rights icon and co-convener of the march.
‘That won´t happen though, unless we are mobilized and galvanized,’ King said Thursday
46-year-old George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
To underscore the urgency of the event, Sharpton has assembled the families of an ever-expanding roll call of victims: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Blake, among others.
One of those mothers, Tamaika Palmer, arrived to the March on Washington event to advocate for her daughter, Breonna Taylor.
The event was also dubbed the ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knees Off Our Necks’ in reference to the death of
On March 13, 26-year-old EMT Breonna was shot dead inside her apartment on Springfield Avenue during a no-knock search warrant at her home.
She and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep when three plainsclothes officers burst into the apartment around 1am. Louisville police have claimed that they identified themselves before entering the property using a battering ram, but Breonna’s family and neighbor’s dispute this.
Martin Luther King III (right) is joined by his daughter Yolanda Renee King (center) and Rep. Alexander Green (left) as they talk with reporters during the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington
Yolanda, pictured with Martin Luther King III: ‘Genuine equality is the reason why people all across the world, from New Zealand to New Jersey. He said we must not forget the days of Montgomery, we must not forget the sit-ins’
Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network organized the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington in support of racial justice, looks out at the rally and march from the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington
On August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (center) gave his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ address to thousands of Americans during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Tamika Palmer (center): ‘What we need is change and we’re at a point where we can get that change but we have to stand together. We have to vote.’
They said police never identified themselves during the incident and that Walker, who was legally allowed to have a firearm, opened fire at officers because he believed they were getting robbed.
Officers fired back at the couple and shot Breonna eight times.
The warrant to search her home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found.
As Palmer approached the microphone, the massive crowd began chanting ‘Breonna’ as Sharpton prompted the crowd to ‘say her name.’
‘What we need is change,’ said Palmer, ‘and we’re at a point where we can get that change but we have to stand together. We have to vote.’
Another family member was Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, who arrived in a face mask garnished with the time code ‘8:46’ – the amount of time Chauvin had knelt on George’s neck.
Floyd died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he pleaded ‘I can’t breathe!’
Cell phone footage shared to social media sparked nationwide outrage, resulting in several weeks of protests, the arrest of all four officers involved in the incident and incited a reckoning on the entire law enforcement as a societal institution.
After his death, the Minneapolis Police Department was abolished and several cities voted to defund their police departments in favor of community programs.
Friday’s March on Washington rally was also dubbed the ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ March, in reference to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and others who have died at the hands of black Americans
Philonise Floyd (center), the brother of slain black man George Floyd, became overwhelmed with emotion and broke down i tears while speaking in front of the large crowd
Pictured: Three attendees at the March on Washington event on Friday hold up posters of George Floyd, a black American man who was killed while in police custody earlier this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The massive crowd chanted ‘George Floyd’ as Philonise approached the podium.
‘I wish George was here to see this right now,’ said Philonese, who broke down in tears and was overcome with emotions.
‘That’s who I’m marching for. I’m marching for George, for Breonna, for Ahmaud, for Jacob, for Pamela Turner, for Michael Brown, Trayvon [Martin] and anyone else who lost their lives to.’
Philonese echoed the sentiments of current civil rights activists who noted that change is at America’s doorstep and now is the time to take it.
‘It’s never been more clear that change is happening right now, because we demand it!’ he said.
‘I have to advocate for everyone because right now Jacob Blake was shot seven times with his kids [nearby]…that’s painful.’
According to Letetra Windman, the shooting of her brother Jacob Blake goes beyond simply police brutality and suggested a historic trend against minorities in America.
‘We will not pretend. We will not be your docile slave. We will not be a foot stool to oppression,’ she said.
Letetra Windam (center): ‘We will not pretend. We will not be your docile slave. We will not be a foot stool to oppression. Most of all, we will not dress up this genocide and call it police brutality. We will only pledge allegiance to the truth’
‘Most of all, we will not dress up this genocide and call it police brutality. We will only pledge allegiance to the truth.
‘Black America, I hold you accountable. You must stand, you must fight, but not was violence and chaos. Learn to love yourself black people. Unify.’
Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, was with his children on August 23 when he was shot seven times in the back by Officer Rusten Shesky in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Police arrived to the 2800 block of 40th Street in Kenosha after Blake’s girlfriend ‘reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.’
Officers tried to subdue him with a taser before opening fire, authorities said.
During an investigation Blake admitted to police that he had a knife and authorities recovered it from the driver’s side floorboard of car after opening fire. No other weapons were found at the scene.
Outrage over Blake’s case continued to grow this week after it was revealed he is now paralyzed from the waist down and was handcuffed to his hospital bed by law enforcement.
Jacob Blake Sr. (center): ‘Racism against Trayvon Martin – we find them guilty! Racism against George Floyd – we find them guilty! Racism against Jacob Blake…guilty! And we’re not taking it anymore’
Jacob Blake Sr. took to the podium after his daughter and said ‘We’re going to hold court on systematic racism – guilty!’
‘Racism against Trayvon Martin – we find them guilty! Racism against George Floyd – we find them guilty! Racism against Jacob Blake…guilty! And we’re not taking it anymore.’
B’Ivory LaMarr, the attorney for the Blake family, doubled down on his clients stance and said ‘we’re tired of talking.’
‘We’re tried of playing games. 2020 is they year America will be put on timeout. Today, I just want to let you know is the last season of the police version of ‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ said LaMarr, referencing the popular television show.
‘We know your playbook. We know your plays,’ he continued. ‘Step one: claim that you were in fear and find an object so you can justify that you were in fear of a black or brown person.
‘Step Two: assassinate that black person and step three: assassinate his character.’
Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, recorded a video address to rally attendees that both commemorated the work down by past civil rights leaders.
‘I was born into an activist family with my parents…pushing me in a stroller through Bay Area streets marching for justice in the years following the March on Washington,’ she said.
‘This moment is a reminder that we must always honor the sacrifices of the leaders who made that march happen. From the names we know, like Randolph, Farmer, Young and King, to everyone who worked behind the scenes that sacrificed quietly, but profoundly.’
Kamala Harris (pictured), the democratic candidate for vice president, paid tribute to past civil rights activists in a pre-recorded speech on Friday
Korey Wise, one of the exonerated five raises his fist as he listens to speakers at the March on Washington rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Pictured: A band from New York and Philadelphia area plays as they march at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington, to join other marchers during the March on Washington
Harris added that she believed those same civil rights leaders and supporters would share the anger of millions of Americans, but would turn that anger ‘into fuel.’
‘I have to believe if they were with us today, they would share our anger, frustration,’ she said, ‘as we continue to see black men and women slain in our streets that were left behind by an economy and justice system that have too often denied black people our dignity and rights.
‘They would turn it into fuel. They would lace up their shoes, link arms and march alongside us.’
Harris also took time to pay tribute to Rep. John Lewis, who died earlier this month after years of service in Congress and activism.
The daughter of Marqueese Alston, who was shot and killed by Washington’s Metropolitan Police on June 12, 2018, hugs her grandmother Kenithia Alston, standing with other families on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Martin Luther King III (pictured), who helped organize the event with Rev. Al Sharpton, arrived for a TV interview near the Lincoln Memorial before the start of ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ in Washington, DC,
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (pictured): ‘Yes, it is possible to write budgets that benefit black lives. If that sounds unfamiliar, that’s because it’s never been done in America’
Alyanna Camacho (left) waits with Laura Navarrete (center) and Brianna Barrett (right) next to signs of George Floyd that Camacho made while on their way to the march on Friday
Pressley: ‘Today I am thinking of the ancestors. Not just the ones recorded in out history books, but the ones omitted from out history books. The justice seekers, the freedom riders, the organizers the community builders, every loved one who packed a brown bag lunch, led a freedom song, risked their lives and livelihood’
Following the commemorative rally that will include remarks from civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents several of the victims´ families, participants will march to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in West Potomac Park, next to the National Mall, and then disperse.
A number of Congress members also gave remarks, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who recalled the civil rights supporters who paved the way for current demonstrations.
‘The truth of the matter is, because of them, we are black with a capital B. We are the manifestation of the movement, we are a symbol of social, political and cultural progress,’ she said.
‘We are in unprecedented and uncertain times. We are challenged by the state of the nation and the crisis we face. But the state of our movement is strong. It is possible.’
She added: ‘Today I am thinking of the ancestors. Not just the ones recorded in out history books, but the ones omitted from out history books. The justice seekers, the freedom riders, the organizers the community builders, every loved one who packed a brown bag lunch, led a freedom song, risked their lives and livelihood.’
Pressley briefly touched on the topic of reforming legislation, which she noted has ‘never’ been created for the benefit of black American lives.
Priscilla Duerrero from Boston, currently living in Washington, D.C., attends the March on Washington with a sign reading ‘racism is a pandemic’
Pictured: This combination of pictures created on August 28, 2020 shows demonstrators attending the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality
‘Yes, it is possible to write budgets that benefit black lives. If that sounds unfamiliar, that’s because it’s never been done in America,’ she said, before adding, ‘We will meet the moment.’
Rep. Adriano Espaillat took a step further and called for sweeping reform to law enforcement and criminal justice.
‘Let’s get rid of the chokehold. Let’s get rid of the knee,’ he declared.
‘Let’s do away with the death penalty. Let’s do away with solitary confinement. Let’s do away with mandatory minimums.’
Turnout in Washington will be lighter than initially intended due to city-imposed coronavirus pandemic restrictions that limit out-of-state visitors to the nation´s capital.
To that end, the National Action Network organized a handful of satellite march events in South Carolina, Florida and Nevada, among others.
People filtering into the designated rally area in front of Lincoln Memorial were asked to undergo temperature checks and seating was separated by six feet in accordance with CDC public health guidelines.
Washington D.C. had recorded more than 13,000 cases and 605, which is dwarfed when compared to the 5.8million cases that have inundated the United States.
Pictured: ‘Demonstrators with ‘Black Lives Matter’ banners begin to gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ rally and March on Washington 2020 in support of racial justice in Washington’
Nationwide anti-racism and Black Lives Matter protests took the United States by storm in May after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed father-of-five, was captured on cell phone footage and shared to social media
Pictured: ‘At the site of today’s March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Dionne Smith holds a photo of her son James Rivera Lille who was shot 48 times by three Stockton, California police officers on July 22, 2010 a day before his 17th birthday’
Pictured: Megan Dogans of Denver, arrives to attend the March on Washington on Friday with a sign reading,’ We Demand Effective Police Reform Laws Now!’
Seating for the March on Washington, or Get Your Knees Off Our Necks March, was placed six feet apart and socially distanced to abide by CDC COVID-19 guidelines
While participants march in Washington, Sharpton has called for those in other states to march on their U.S. senators´ offices and demand their support of federal policing reforms.
Sharpton said protesters should also demand reinvigorated U.S. voter protections, in memory of the late Congressman John Lewis who, until his death on July 17, was the last living speaker at the original march.
In June, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, which would ban police use of stranglehold maneuvers and end qualified immunity for officers, among other reforms.
In July, following Lewis´ death, Democratic senators reintroduced legislation that would restore a provision of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
The law previously required states with a history of voter suppression to seek federal clearance before changing voting regulations. Both measures are awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate.
‘We´re demanding that that be enacted,’ King said.
‘The senators won´t even take action on it. That gives us an opportunity to say, `OK, we gave you guys a chance, we as the people, as black people, as white people, as Latinos and Hispanics and we´re going to vote you out.´’
Regina (pictured) performs the song ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ as she appears with singer and songwriter George Clinton as demonstrators gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington on Friday
Demonstrators get a temperature check during the ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ protest against racism and police brutality, at the Lincoln Memorial on Friday
Pictured: a person attending the March on Washington rally held a sign reading,’ Skin color is not reasonable suspicion! Police brutality sows the seeds of discontent!’
Kenithia Alston (far right), mother of Marquise Alston, speaks at the March on Washington while joining with 11 other mothers who lost their children to police killings
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (left)giving his I Have a Dream speech to huge crowd gathered for the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom
Pictured: Tsa-Qhura Hudson waits near the Lincoln Memorial for the start of ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks
Thousands of demonstrators gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ Commitment March
Pictured: a woman donned a ‘I can’t breathe’ face mask and a clear face cover while attending the March on Washington March organized by civil rights leaders on Friday
Members of the cast of Bravo’s ‘Married to Medicine’ attend the 2020 March on Washington, officially known as the ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off our Necks,’ at the Lincoln Memorial
Pictured: People marching during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom political rally in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963
He added: ‘There are a number of senators who need to go because they don´t have the capacity or have not demonstrated they have a capacity to understand what needs to happen in the community.’
Thursday evening, the NAACP began commemorating the March on Washington with a virtual event that featured remarks from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali.
‘Thanks to the activism of countless young people, the movement for justice goes on,’ Pelosi said. ‘We must keep up the fight and, as John Lewis would say, `find a way to get in the way.”
Later in the evening, the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 black-led organizations that make up the broader Black Lives Matter movement, will hold its virtual Black National Convention.
The convention will coincide with the unveiling of a new black political agenda intended to build on the success of this summer´s protests.
The platform will deepen calls for defunding police departments in favor of investments to healthcare, education, housing and other social services in black communities, organizers said.