‘Get Your Knee Off our Necks’ – Recap

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Recap of the 2020 March on Washington

“If you’re looking for a savior, get up and look in the mirror.” – Martin Luther King III

The History of the March on Washington

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Many people believe that Martin Luther King Jr. started the March on Washington. However, this is not necessarily true.

The 1963 march would not have been possible without A. Phillip Randolph. Randolph was the leader of the Negro American Labor Council and had already organized the nation’s first African American Labor Union.

Randolph initiated a march for jobs while MLK wanted to march for freedom. The two decided to combine their efforts ultimately resulting in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Almost a quarter-million people came to the Lincoln memorial in August 1963 to emphasize the need for change and protest the inequalities that Blacks have been facing for decades.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous “I have a dream” speech by MLK. 

He gave this speech at the very first March on Washington in 1963. And while he already played a major part in the civil rights movement, he was not at the march to give the speech that we know and love today.

In fact, MLK was the last person to speak at the event in order to allow other presenters the opportunity to speak in front of the news crew first. 

He spoke way longer than his scheduled time and his speech became one of the most iconic speeches in history. 

The Result of the Movement

The March on Washington gathered so much attention across the nation that it helped get the momentum needed to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

March on Washington 2020black lives matter flag

Black Lives Matter Protests

Protests for equality and justice have been going on for a long time – especially in the Black community.  We saw the increase in uprisings earlier this year when Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed just for running in his neighborhood.

Read more: Running While Black

It was when videos surfaced of George Floyd’s death that our exhaustion and frustration reached its tipping point.

While attending Floyd’s funeral, Rev. Al Sharpton announced that the National Action Network (NAN) would schedule the 2020 March on Washington: Get Your Knees Off Our Necks.

My Experience

I had the opportunity to fly to DC to take part in the march.

As people from all across the United States gathered together to protest the racial injustices Black people have faced year after year, there was one thing that kept coming back to my mind.

How did people do this 57 years ago?

The temperature that day was 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The sun was unforgiving and blazed on us every chance it got.

Let’s not forget that we are still in the midst of a pandemic with no cure for COVID-19 in sight.

And yet, despite these two extraordinary factors, thousands upon thousands of people gathered together to bring attention to the fact that Black Lives Matter.

As I walked to the entrance of the Lincoln Memorial where volunteers from the National Action Network and other organizations provided temperature checks and passed out masks and gloves, I felt a sense of pride and inspiration.

When you experience a protest no matter in your city or at the national level, you can’t help but feel proud of your people for standing up for what they believe in.

Despite all of the barriers leading up to this day, everyone showed up together unified in the fight to end police brutality.

There was a sea of melanin in attendance. And there were also people from all races and all ethnicities showing up to support us.

Before the actual march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Memorial, there were several speeches given by people from all over the nation. 

martin luther king 3
Martin Luther King III

This included members of Congress, families of Black people killed by police officers such as Jacob Blake, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Martin Luther King III (Martin Luther King Jr’s oldest son) and Rev. Al Sharpton also gave speeches.

Even though our hearts were heavy with the continuous killings of our people, there was still a sense of hope and encouragement from everyone in attendance. 

We know that there is still so much work to be done. And it will take perseverance and unity to get there.

It starts by making sure we go out and vote and find ways to create change in our own backyards.

You can still watch the event by clicking here 

Conclusion on Attending the March on Washington

An entire century has gone by and yet the issues that Blacks face still look the same.

We are still fighting for equality and justice. These marches and events in history show that without policy and change our voices may still be left unheard.

Keep Speaking Out. 

Keep Marching.

Keep Running. 

“If you’re looking for a savior, get up and look in the mirror”

Martin Luther King III

Register to Vote

Remember August 28th – a day in Black History

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