Society and Education
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Americans gathered Saturday on the National Mall to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a monumental event in the U.S. civil rights movement most remembered because of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
The crowd of different racial and faith groups convened at the Lincoln Memorial, the very backdrop against which King gave his galvanizing speech on Aug. 28, 1963 to as many as 250,000 people who arrived from across the nation, calling for an end to racial discrimination and various kinds of social injustice.
The day-long rally saw King's descendants as well as leaders of civil and human rights groups give speeches reminding Americans that 60 years on, King's ideals were far from a complete realization. Even worse, what he had achieved is being jeopardized.
Dr. King's 15-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, in her address to the crowd said if she had a chance to say something to her grandpa today, she would say, "I am sorry we still have to be here to rededicate ourselves to finishing your work, and ultimately realizing your hidden dream."
"Sixty years ago, Dr. King urged us to struggle against the triple evils of racism, poverty and bigotry," she said. "Today, racism is still with us. Poverty is still with us. And now gun violence has come for our places of worship, our schools and our shopping centers."
The young lady's remarks pointed exactly to the deep-rooted problems which, despite never-ending cries to remedy them, still roil the U.S. society on a day-to-day basis.
From the brutal kneeling to death of black man George Floyd by white police in bright daylight three years ago to the numerous racially motivated shootings, among which a white man fatally shot three black people in Florida just happened on the same day when the commemoration was held, people of ethnic minority still face the daunting reality that even their right to live, let alone other rights, is being disregarded or even deprived of just because of the color of their skin.
"I'm very concerned about the direction our country is going in," Martin Luther King III, King's son said. "Instead of moving forward, it feels as if we are moving backward."
As speakers ranging from civil rights leaders to surviving participants in March on Washington stepped up to the microphone one after another, signs could be seen being held by the gathering crowd. They read "Stop Police Brutality,""Black Lives Matter," "I'm Chinese American, Not a Virus," among others.
When the speeches drew to an end, the crowd marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the embankment of Tidal Basin. King's family and civil rights leader Al Sharpton were seen in the lead, holding a banner on which the slogan read: "Continuing the Dream."
That's what the organizers intended for the event to serve -- not as a mere commemoration of what happened on the similarly sweltering summer day in 1963, but as a reiteration of what King had sacrificed his 39 years of life for.