A man stands in the Reflecting Pool as people attend the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO
It has been 57 years since the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” entered the American gospels alongside the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg Address.
The arc of history has indeed proven long in the three generations since ‘63, and a new generation was front and center in 2020.
Black women were more in focus than ever but Black youth promised the most work and the most results.
“I am one of the millions of young Black women who make up the backbone of the American progressive movement,” Aalayah Eastmond told the socially distant crowd at the Lincoln Memorial. “Like too many of us, my journey of activism started by a senseless act of gun violence, when a fellow student opened fire in my classroom in Parkland, Florida.”
Eastmond survived the 2018 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High that claimed 17 lives.
“As I lay beneath the lifeless body of my classmate Nicholas Dworet, to survive, as bullets riddled my classmates, as my screams melted into the cries of the wounded, I was then born again with a voice that cannot and will not be muzzled,” Eastmond said.
“These movements have always been intergenerational,” said Nialah Edari. “John Lewis was 23 years old when he marched from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama.”
Edari co-founded Freedom March NYC with co-speaker Chelsea Miller, a fellow Columbia University Alum. Edari has worked in the office of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
“These movements have also always included Black women,” Edari continued. “But we haven’t always gotten our recognition. When we think about Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks and Mahalia Jackson. Black women have continued to be on the front lines, so these movements must continue to be intersectional.”
“We may be young, but we are a force,” Miller said. “We may be young, but we stand on the shoulders of giants. We may be young, but we are organized, and we are strategized, and we will show up in November, to the polls and we will let them know that we are not going anywhere.”
Convened as the Commitment March by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, this year is aimed to restore and recommit to the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We will ensure that this revolution will be televised, we will ensure that this movement will continue, in an intersectional way, in an intergenerational way, and we will not allow for this democracy that has promised us equality and justice to not make sure that they keep that promise,” Miller said.