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WASHINGTON – In wake of the Supreme Court’s continued campaign against democracy and civil rights, Black leaders will bring together a large coalition for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington this August. Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, and Arndrea Waters King will lead a coalition of 60 national organizations across racial, cultural, and generational lines to commemorate this pivotal event at the Lincoln Memorial on August 26th.
The demonstration will come just two months after the Supreme Court gutted affirmative action in higher education and chipped away at LGBTQ+ rights – just one year after the bench rolled back longstanding abortion protections under Roe v. Wade. A coalition of right-leaning attorneys general immediately seized on the affirmative action ruling – warning Corporate America that any personnel decisions based on race or related factors would qualify as discrimination.
Black civil rights leaders have been steadfast in their fight to protect decades worth of rights won through organizing, marching, and voting. The nation’s legacy civil rights organizations –
ADL, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Human Rights Commission, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Defense Fund, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, National Urban League and UNIDOS – have signed on as co-chairs of the March.
Criminal justice reform and the impact it can have on Black communities has been a core pillar of the National Action Network’s work since Rev. Sharpton founded the organization in 1991 with the support of the King family. Over the last decade, Rev. Sharpton has delivered the eulogy for several dozen Black men and women unjustly killed by law enforcement. He delivered a clarion call for real, systemic change during the 2020 funeral of George Floyd, which was attended by the King family, which set the tone for the 2020 March on Washington later that summer. The Kings have also been on the forefront of protecting the right to vote, including leading the effort to pass the federal John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act in August 2021. They also led No Celebration Without Legislation in January 2022, with activations in almost every state.
While the March on Washington was centered around jobs and economic opportunities, recent data from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) shows Black and Brown Americans face multiple barriers. The median wealth gap between Black and white households has widened by $40,000 over the last 60 years, from $121,000 in 1963 to $161,000 today. Student debt, which overwhelmingly hits Black Americans harder, is a driving factor for this yawning gap – with limited relief in sight after the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s plan to wipe as much as $20,000 per borrower.
A combination of bad policies, underinvestment, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act have also driven poverty among Black and Brown Americans. Unemployment among Black Americans remains twice as high when compared to white Americans, according to FPWA, and 1 in 3 Black children live in poverty as a result. Black and Brown women especially face the greatest economic hardships as they earn $.64 and $.55, respectively, for every $1 a white man earns.
Understanding Dr. King’s tenet that an injustice against one group is a threat to all, they have brought together a large tent of communities who are equally under attack by this concerted effort to undo these hard-won victories. That’s why Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, ADL, Human Rights Commission, and UNIDOS have additionally signed on as co-chairs for the demonstration.
The Black press, which for more than 100 years has given a voice to the voiceless, will no doubt continue to play a key role in this March. Members of the media who intend to cover the event are required to fill out the credentialing form available here. Please note, due to construction at the Lincoln Memorial, street traffic will be disrupted. If your news outlet requires space for satellite truck parking, you must note that on your credentialing form.
The coalition will gather for a large-scale event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Saturday, August 26, 2023. The pre-program for the event will begin at 8:00 a.m. ET with the main program beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. Following the program, a march will begin through the streets of the Nation’s Capital, culminating at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Additional details will be released prior to the event.