‘We Shall Not Be Moved’—Marchers remember the legacy of Dr. King

SHA-NIA ALSTON and MIKA BASSON | 1/19/2017, midnight
Hundreds of marchers gathered in Washington D.C. this past Saturday. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, in ...
Rev. Al Sharpton/National Action Network "We Shall Not Moved" March in Washington, DC Bill Moore photo

Hundreds of marchers gathered in Washington D.C. this past Saturday. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, in partnership with organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Urban League, Hip Hop Caucus, Planned Parenthood and others, led the “We Shall Not Be Moved” march.

Participants marched from the Washington Monument to the West Potomac Park. The Martin Luther King Memorial served as the background for speeches and chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “No Racist Police!”

Ryan Battle, an intern for Assemblyman Michael Blake and a student at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science set the tone for the march. The young scholar emphasized that we cannot allow fear to keep us from fighting.

“Fear will not stop us from uniting and keeping our government strong and good to make sure that the president-elect Trump is not afraid to continue what Obama fearlessly started,” he said.  

Although the agenda of most protestors was protecting civil rights gains, others on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day wanted to honor the memory of King.

Kim Williams from the Irvington, N.J. Chapter of NAN attended the march not only to remember the lessons of King but also to continue to the fight.

“We’re celebrating the anniversary of Dr. King and we still want to make sure that all generations know that we intend to keep the dream alive and not for us today, but us in the future,” she said. “We just want to let everybody know that we’re still here and we will not be moved and we’re going to continue to fight. The dream still lives on and we’re not going anywhere.”

In the pouring rain, Sharpton who joined marchers front and center, told the crowd, “I want Trump to see that we are not fair weather activists. We march in the rain, in the ice, in the cold. We are not Trump Tower folk; we are down in the ground activists. And if you got any doubt about it, watch these activists march today.”

High-ranking politicians were in attendance, including Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Bowser discussed the importance of fighting at all levels of government. “I am reminded in my own hometown that we have to fight for the local level, the state level and the federal level,” she said. “We are committed to justice and to equity and committed to making American values all people’s values.”

Groups came together and rallied for police reform, stop-and-frisk regulation and prevention of mass incarceration for low-level nonviolent crimes.

“We didn’t come to protest Trump,” said the Rev. Shane Harris from the San Diego Chapter of NAN. “We came to let them know that issues of voting rights, issues of health care inequality and income inequality, issues of police brutality will be front and center. Issues of voting rights where people are losing the opportunity to vote. We shall not be moved.”

A promise of a strong fight was put forward by multiple activists and political representatives from all across the nation. Voting rights is a core element of the fight. “We saw that the Voting Rights Act did not make even 50 years,” said Ohio State Representative Alicia Reese. “We know that we have the strength. We know that we shall not be moved. I come to you from the great state of Ohio because of the mothers of the movement. We now have a criminal justice reform bill that’s waiting to get moving in Ohio because we shall not be moved.”

Bowser highlighted the fight to raise the national minimum wage. “As mayor of Washington, D.C., we know that we can be at the forefront to fight for criminal justice reforms that make our city and our nation more fair,” she said. “We have lead the way of working with our brothers and sisters in labor to pass a minimum wage of $15 by 2020, and we call on the nation to do the same.”

“We come, not to appeal to Donald Trump, because he’s made it clear what his policies are and what his nominations are,” Sharpton continued. “We’ve come to say to the Democrats in the Senate and in the House, and to the moderate Republicans, to get some backbone. If you can’t do the job, then we’ll come back and bring you back home.”

The march is a powerful message to the Trump administration, to Republicans and to Democrats that some things should not and will not be changed