The Rev. Al Sharpton announced Thursday that he’s organizing a March on Washington in late August to mark the 57th anniversary of the historic demonstration for civil rights as protests over the death of George Floyd sweep the nation.
Sharpton said the event will be led by the families of black people who have died at the hands of police officers, including Floyd’s family. Sharpton made the announcement while speaking at Floyd’s memorial service on Thursday.
“On August 28, the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, we’re going back to Washington,” Sharpton said as he delivered a eulogy for Floyd, a black man who was killed last week by a white police officer in Minneapolis, during the memorial service.
“We’re going back this August 28 to restore and recommit that dream (of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) … We need to go back to Washington and stand up, black, white, Latino, Arab, in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them this is the time to stop this,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton said the march is going to be led by the families that “know the pain” and know what it’s like to be “neglected,” including the families of Floyd and Eric Garner, a black man who was choked to death in 2014 by a police officer in New York.
The reverend also said the march is “going to be getting us ready to vote, not just for who’s going to be in the White House, but the statehouse and the city councils that allow these policing measures to go unquestioned.”
“We are going to change the time,” he declared to mourners present at Floyd’s memorial service.
The plans will likely raise significant questions about the safety of the event’s participants as public health officials are still recommending against holding large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The original 1963 event, officially titled the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” was led by King and others, and is perhaps best remembered for the late civil rights leader’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” which he delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.
More than 200,000 people participated in the march to focus attention on civil rights and the need to create a level playing field for American workers. On the 50th anniversary of the march in 2013, thousands rallied at the National Mall to mark the occasion during an event that included leaders from civil rights, religious and civic organizations.
‘We cannot use Bibles as a prop’
Sharpton also took aim at President Donald Trump during his eulogy on Thursday, blasting the President for using a Bible earlier this week “as a prop” when he visited a historic church in Washington that was partially damaged during protests sparked by Floyd’s death.
“I saw somebody standing in front of a church the other day which had been boarded up as a result of violence. Held the Bible in his hand. I’ve been preaching since I was a little boy, I’ve never seen anyone hold a Bible like that, but I’ll leave that alone,” Sharpton said. “First of all, we cannot use Bibles as a prop.”
The reverend implored Trump to “read Ecclesiastes (chapter) three: ‘To every season there is a time and a purpose.’ And I think that it is our job to let the world know when we see what is going on in the streets of this country, and in Europe, (and) around the world, that you need to know what time it is.”
On Monday, peaceful protesters were cleared from a park near the White House by authorities using tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets so that Trump and an entourage of administration officials and security personnel could walk to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church where the President posed for photos while holding a bible that he did not quote from.