Last Saturday, approximately a thousand protesters gathered in solidarity on the steps of Newark’s Lincoln Monument in New Jersey. It was the scene of the Million People’s March, a rally that focused on the testimonies of family members of police-brutality victims and an organized march down Market Street. The event was organized by People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Lawrence Hamm.

“We demand the abolition of all forms of racism—institutional, overt and covert—in the United States of America,” Hamm said in his opening address.

The first part of the event ended with a fiery monologue by Dr. Cornel West. It was a typical West-ian mini-sermon: He stretched syllables, threw in a few pop culture references (this time it was Keith Sweat and John Coltrane, who died near the end of the 1967 Newark Riots) and remarked about lethal drone strikes and accountability.

“We’re going to make sure all the tears of these fathers and these mothers are not shed in vain,” West said.

Photos by Brian Josephs

The family members made their pain a visceral one in front of the raucous audience. Rage, sadness, weariness and bewilderment mixed in their voices as they spoke about their experiences. Ikea Coney recalled how her son Darrin Manning, then 16, frantically asked his basketball teammates to call her during a stop-and-frisk that ended with him feeling a “pop” in his testicles. Akai Gurley’s aunt Hertencia Petersen spoke about the absurdity of getting shot for taking the stairs because of a broken elevator. Ramsey Orta, who recorded Eric Garner’s slaying, was the only person connected with the death to be arrested—albeit on unrelated charges. Orta’s aunt Lisa Mercado was emotional and paused multiple times as she recalled the experience.

“My nephew is only 23 years old, and he has to live with watching that vision in his head of him being lynched, in his face, today, in 2015,” Mercado said.

The angst in Juanita Young’s voice was palpable as she remembered when the police killed her son Malcolm Ferguson who was shot in the head on March 1, 2000, during a struggle with a police officer. Instead of a criminal case, Ferguson’s death was relegated to a civil case. Young was awarded $10.5 million, but the officer who killed him, Louis Rivera, was unpunished despite admitting he was at fault.

“We ended up taking this case to civil court to hear this low life say he murdered my son for no reason, but yet he walked out that court,” Young said. “How can you admit to murdering somebody and not be charged?”

The testimonies gave way to marching led mostly by Hamm and Petersen’s chants. The diverse crowd, which included New York Assemblyman Charles Barron, brothers from the Nation of Islam, prepubescent children and victimized families, diligently marched in hot and humid conditions. Onlookers and photographers were naturally drawn by the scene.

The gathering was overlooked by a large black poster that displayed the photos of those gunned down by the police. It listed the names regardless of whether the victims received media attention. The protesters shouted the names of the deceased and imprisoned, including Abdul-Wakil M. Kamal, a 30-year-old who was unarmed when he was gunned down in 2013; Kashad Ashford, who was 23 when he was fatally shot in 2013; and Michael Brown, the 18-year-old whose murder last year prompted massive media attention.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who arrived late after rushing from the Newark International Airport, was one of them.

“It’s important for you to understand that this is not specifically about things that are happening in the city of Newark,” Baraka said. “We’re talking about things that are happening to us all over the world.”

Hamm and other leaders made it clear that this rally wasn’t an endnote. On Oct. 10, Minister Louis Farrakhan is holding a rally marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

“Everybody’s on the same page,” said Jerome Roundtree, a 30-year-old resident of Redbank, N.J. “We woke up.”