William Allison,92, came to the march with same sign he carried in 1963.
Thousands of marchers are in Washington today, fifty years after Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington. Several of the attendees are still fighting for the same rights they rallied for fifty years ago.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who co-organized Saturday’s march with King’s son, Martin Luther King III, gave a fiery keynote address that carried out his earlier promise to focus the day’s observances on the “issues that have stood in the way” of fulfilling King’s goals.
Sharpton called on activists to march for jobs and economic opportunity, criticizing the federal government for “bailing out the banks” and corporations while many African-Americans grapple with poverty.
He later turned his attention to gun violence, saying, “We gotta fight against this recklessness that makes us so insensitive that we shoot each other for no reason.”
Martin Luther King III, took the stage overlooking the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool around 12:30pm, and paid tribute to his father and the forerunners of the modern civil rights movement. He then spoke about a host of contentious issues, including the debates over Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground self-defense statute as well as New York’s so-called Stop and Frisk policing tactic, which some have characterized as racial profiling.
Sharpton and King III were joined Saturday by relatives of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was abducted, beaten and shot in the head in 1955 in Mississippi after he was accused of flirting with a white woman, organizers said in a press release.
A parade of speakers took to the podium, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) urged activists to advocate for equality and fairness, placing recent social debates in the context of King’s vision. Other speakers include the families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, Myrlie Evers-Williams (Widow of Medgar-Evers), President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Obama's speech will focus on the progress that has been made since the 1963 march as well as his vision for the future, according to a senior administration official.