Thousands of people descended upon the National Mall on the afternoon of March 21 for the March for America, and while jobs and immigration reform were supposed to be the dual themes of the rally, it was clear by the number of Latinos in attendance which topic was more important.
Marchers carried signs saying “We’re all Americans” and “Latinos aren’t Slaves” in support of new immigration measures.
The march came amid a charged atmosphere in the nation’s capital, as lawmakers in the House of Representatives moved toward passing a massive health care reform bill that afternoon.
Many flocked to the National Mall the previous day to protest the health care bill in a sometimes unruly manner on March 20, hurling racial and anti-gay slurs at several Democratic lawmakers. House Republicans said those incidents were isolated, and condemned the remarks.
While many protestors remained in the capital on March 21 to continue their opposition to the bill, the immigration and jobs march was apparently devoid of conflict with health care protestors, as attendees said they just wanted to have their voices heard.
“We just want to stop being treated like second-class citizens,” said Marco Gonzalez, an attendee of the march. “We work and contribute to the economy like anyone else.”
Though many speakers at the march’s official program represented traditionally Black organizations and groups, African-Americans appeared to be in the vast minority of attendees.
However, one African-American man, Eric Richardson, traveled from Oregon to attend the event. He said he considers every American an immigrant.
“I’m here as a descendant of African immigrants,” Richardson said. “I know that there’s mostly Latinos in the crowd today but I share in their struggle.”