MLK’s Son Speaks Out at the March on Washington For “Trayvon’s Law” and Against the Repeal of Key Parts of the Voting Rights Act
Thousands of people surround the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC while listening to speakers such as Martin Luther King, III, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Joseph Lowery (founder of the SCLC), and others including the families of Medgar Evers and Trayvon Martin. The huge rally commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech.
Martin Luther King, III, 50 years after his father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this speech in 1963, mounted the same steps at the Lincoln Memorial standing up against the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court.
King tied the oppression of undocumented workers into his father’s message, addressing undocumented Latino families in solidarity as “our brown brothers.”
He also spoke out in support of what the NAACP calls “Trayvon’s Law“, which the organization describes as “legislative responses that will greatly reduce the likelihood of another tragedy like the killing of Trayvon Martin.”
The core principles of this proposed legislation, according to the NAACP are:
- Ending racial profiling;
- Repealing stand your ground type laws;
- Creating law enforcement accountability through effective police oversight;
- Improving training and best practices for community watch groups; and
- Mandating law enforcement data collection on homicide cases involving people of color.
Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at length about these issues and more. Quite poignantly, Sharpton drew on Martin Luther King Jr. analogy of the “bounced check” in the Bank of Justice.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
The reverend responded, saying “we have redeposited the check. But this time,” when it bounced again, he explained, “it wasn’t marked insufficient funds,” instead “it was marked ‘stop payment.'”
As well, Sharpton explained that when African American youth are part of a school to prison pipeline, they “dress the part,” sagging their pants, as though anticipating the mass incarceration that disproportionately cages African American male youths. Teach them who they can be, and give them real hope in their future, Sharpton explained, and then they’ll pull their pants up.
Rev. Joseph Lowery, memorably, led a chant of: “We come to Washington to commemorate, we’re going back home to agitate.”
The crowd was enormous by all standards, with MSNBC estimating the crowd as possibly as high as 200,000 or more. The demographics of those who gathered represented people from all backgrounds and segments of American society.
Look for more information as it develops…
(Images from USA Today; DC. Paul J. Richards; AFP/Getty Images; Jose Luis Magana, AP)