57 years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” address at the March on Washington, demonstrators once again descended on the National Mall to demand racial justice.
United under the rallying cry “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial Friday to demand an end to police violence and fight for changes to the criminal justice system. The march occurred during a time of acute focus on systemic racism and amid protests tied to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others.
The march also occurred just days after Jacob Blake, a Black 29-year-old man, was shot by police seven times on August 23.
“The road ahead, it is not going to be easy, but if we work together to challenge every instinct our nation has to return to the status quo, and combine the wisdom of long-time warriors for justice with the creative energy of the young leaders today, we have an opportunity to make history, right here and right now,” Harris said.
Other speeches also referenced the historical gravity of the day.
“Today I am thinking of the ancestors. Not just the ones recorded in our history books, but the ones omitted from those pages,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in her speech before the crowd. “Their sacrifice and self determination shaped history, and brought us to this moment. The truth of the matter is we are because of them.”
Following the speeches, demonstrators walked to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park, next to the National Mall.
To curb the spread of coronavirus, advanced safety precautions were put in place. Before entering the rally, those in attendance had to get their temperature taken, according to the Washington Post. Additionally, seating in front of the Lincoln Memorial for families impacted by police violence and speakers was spread apart to adhere to social distancing. Participants donned face masks as well.