New Yorkers Descend On Nation's Capital With Renewed Calls For Racial Justice On Anniversary Of March On Washington
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Thousands of people across the country headed to Washington, D.C. to march for social justice Friday, the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network organized the march, called the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks."
The rally is focused on police brutality, racial injustice and voter protection.
CBS2's John Dias spoke with protesters as they piled onto buses at the Barclays Center and Bryant Park.
"For us having a chance to do this, we're making history out of it. So we want to the world to know that protesting is never going to stop," Shamiyl Tunba Bilal said.
"I think it's important to go down to D.C. and show that Black Lives Matter and what's happening in America right now - the same thing that's happened for hundreds of years - is unacceptable," said Hillary Henry, of Gramercy.
One woman came prepared with a homemade sign.
"We have opportunity to head in the right direction. There's always room for growth, always room for opportunity," she told Dias. "I don't want to be a hashtag. I don't want my brother to be a hashtag. So hopefully something stops."
Watch Aundrea Cline-Thomas' Report
"There's so many families grieving just like his. There's so many people with skin like mine that just have no idea," said Megan Buckley, of Midwood.
March organizers said they would pass out masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and only allow 25 people on each bus for social distancing.
The march comes as Jacob Blake remains in the hospital after being shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin earlier this week. It's led to days of protests and 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shooting at bystanders, killing two people.
Blake's family was among the speakers at the rally, along with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Tayler, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin.
"I wish George were here to see this right now. That's who I'm marching for," said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother.
Floyd, with his voice cracking and holding back tears, addressed the crowd of thousands, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.
Watch John Dias' Report
The Floyds are the embodiment of heartache at the hands of police.
Now, the Blake family is being introduced to the devastation.
"I'm tired of looking at cameras and seeing these young Black and brown people suffer," said Jacob Blake, Sr.
"What we need is change and we're at a point where we can get that change," said Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother.
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That exhaustion served as motivation for Rachel Alston, who came to the march from Monmouth County, NJ.
"I have so much greatness that came before me, so now that it's still going on today, it's a very sad issue, that we still have to do this. However, it's now time for them to pass the baton to me and to carry on the fight," said Alston.
The National Action Network marked the anniversary of the original March on Washington by organizing a new one in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial. This time, participants marched to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
King's 12-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda King, said it was her generation's turn.
"We are going to be the generation that dismantles systemic racism once and for all," she said.
"We didn't come today to have a show. Demonstration without legislation would not lead to change," said Sharpton, specifically calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, that includes a federal ban on chokeholds.
RELATED STORY: New York City Council Considering Changes To Language Of Police Chokehold Ban
Sharpton also called for renewing the Voting Rights Act in the name of civil right icon Rep. John Lewis, who died last month.
Michelle Obama weighed in, calling the events of this summer "age-old and systemic racism" and said sometimes people "see it on the news. Sometimes they see it from the White House Rose Garden."
"I'm 30 years old. I've had my run-ins with the police. Positive and negative, and I just know that we can do better than this," said Vance Jones, a Maryland resident.
"It's good to march, but we can't just march. We got to put in legislation. We gotta let people know that it's the vote that counts," said Philadelphia resident Sherrita Reid-Elam.
Fifty-seven years to the day that Dr. King shared his dream, marchers say it has yet to be realized.
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