Civil Rights Activists Prepare for 60th Anniversary of March on Washington

Organizers see upcoming August 26th event as ‘not just a commemoration but a continuation’
By D. Kevin McNeir

On August 28, 1963, an estimated 250,000 descended on the National Mall to participate in one of the largest political rallies for human rights in U.S. history. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, organized by Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph with the goal of garnering nationwide support for civil and economic rights for African Americans, will forever be remembered because of its leader and final speaker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism. The march has also been credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And next month, on Saturday, August 26, beginning at 8 a.m., Dr. King’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III, along with his wife, Arndrea Waters King, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, will lead a cadre of activists and advocates for equality, equity and justice for what Sharpton has described as “not just a commemoration but a continuation of what Dr. King and our predecessors started,” on the 60th anniversary of the March. The event promises to bring together organizations and leaders committed to assessing the progress made to achieve Dr. King’s dream while highlighting what remains undone – work needed to achieve peace, justice, and equity in the world.

“Despite the significant progress we have made over these six decades, we need to rededicate ourselves to the mission my dad gave his life for,” said King III, chairman of the Drum Major Institute.

“It is difficult to not be disgruntled with everything going on in the world. Black and brown Americans are the target of violence, and our most vulnerable citizens are losing hope that brighter days are ahead. We have to do better. We have to hold our elected leaders accountable, and this anniversary gives us the opportunity to not just commemorate his historic calling, but to continue his efforts to make life better for everyone,” he said.

“We must remember why we are still marching: the civil rights of Black, brown, Asian, Jewish, LGBTQ Americans, and women are under relentless attack,” said Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network. “There is a concerted effort to undermine our democracy. There are many working week by week to peel away these rights, take away our history, or stop us from celebrating holidays like Juneteenth. I am honored to stand with the King family as we bring together these groups for a historic, cross-cultural and cross-generational demonstration to show that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. Together, we will show the nation the strength in our unity and our resolve to realize Dr. King’s dream of a fair nation for all of us.”

Co-chairs for the march include: AAJC. Anti-Defamation League, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Defense Fund, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, National Urban League, and UNIDOS.

The pre-program for the event will begin at 8:00 a.m., with the main program beginning at 11:00 a.m. Following the program, a march will begin through the streets of the nation’s capital.