I have been to my share of rallies and protests. I have chanted and "Amened" and "Uh-huhed" and  nodded. Last month, in some sort of angry citizen-journalist fervor, I found my sleeveless black hoodie and belted to a Trayvon Martin rally fresh from family vacation. Heading into the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, I was certain of a few things- mainly that I understood what was to come. That was pretty cocky for someone who didn't register on any sites, and whose prep consisted of choosing comfy shoes, dressing like a 1960s lady, and of course reading some history on the 1963 Great March on Washington otherwise known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
You ain't fresh as they is...

I'm trying though!

I didn't know what was coming. One of my sister's jokingly suggested there be a Marching for Dummies manual given out the next time. Seriously, that would help. Questions persisted like: do we march before or after? What are we marching towards? What happens after you march? But besides my insistence on knowing what's next , (I usually know a movie's ending before I watch) the uncertainty kept me completely engaged.  I grabbed my signs from the NAACP that decried racial profiling, and joined the bevy of signs to reclaim the promise, fight for Trayvon's Law, and voting rights.

Here were some of my thoughts from Day 2 (Saturday):
There are inherent issues that arise with following an event that had such an impact in the past. The stakes are different for one. In 1963 Jim Crow laws were still explicitly in effect and discrimination  was blatantly rampant across the country. The 1963 March is noted as one of the events that played a part in leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1964 passing. Today’s institutionalized discrimination and racism is less overt, discretely hiding in archaic and draconian policies leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the dire economic straits that tempt them to perform acts which then destroy their freedom. It's cyclical. This march is at a time when the Supreme Court though it fine to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, despite repeated attempts in several states to limit access to this basic act of voting.

Voting Rights was a big issue. If anyone thought people were comfortable with this summer's Supreme Court decision, the disapproval was decidedly clear. National Action Network Founder/President and Keynote Speaker, Al Sharpton, made the link to the past when he told people stopped for identification at voting polls to “show them a picture of Medgar Evers... Show a picture of Cheney…” A great portion of his speech was dedicated to reaffirming the need to vote and impressing upon attendees the blood, sweat, and tears that went into assuring the right to vote for various people.

Racial profiling was also a big issue tackled throughout the day. The families of Emmet Till and Trayvon Martin were given a platform through the ceremonies. The NAACP distributed signs that lobbied for the passage of Trayvon’s Law, and also called for an end to racial profiling. And if anyone thought that the perceived lack of justice in the Trayvon Martin case was not a rallying cry for several marchers, the prevalence  of homemade signs and t shirts utilizing the young boy’s name and visage showed otherwise.

The issues could be clearly identified through some compilation of the speeches: Voting Rights, Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement Relations, LGBTQ Rights, Education Rights, etc. The message was basically clear, although it's interpretations were a little confusing. Social media is a bit to blame for the confusion, but I will discuss that at another time. Time will tell if anything that happened over the weekend will carry the legacy that the first march left. It’s doubtful, but somewhat possible. 

Most awkard music transition: The Commodores "Brick House" Who chose this song?
Biggest applause: Pretty sure that went to Dr. Myrlie Evers Williams. What an inspiration!
Worst intro: The intro for Julian Bond. "Before there was a Barack Obama....and he was born in America..."??? What are you trying to say?

The most crunk award for the day goes to the Chicago Socialists. They turned up, turned out, and had everyone chanting with them. "Protect and Serve? That's a lie! No one cares when black kids die!" and "Escucha, Obama. Estamos en la lucha." carried marchers through the walk (which happens after the speeches) amidst church groups singing, unions humming, and people legitimately uniting in the continued struggle for jobs and economic freedom.


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