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Marching for King's dream: 'The task is not done'

By Suzanne Gamboa

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:40 a.m. HST, Aug 25, 2013

WASHINGTON » Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall Saturday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King's famous speech and pledging that his dream includes equality for gays, Latinos, the poor and the disabled.

The event was an homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans. But there was a strong theme of unfinished business.

"This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration," said Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader. "Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."

Eric Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, said he would not be in office, nor would Barack Obama be president, without those who marched.

"They marched in spite of animosity, oppression and brutality because they believed in the greatness of what this nation could become and despaired of the founding promises not kept," Holder said.

Holder mentioned gays and Latinos, women and the disabled as those who had yet to fully realize the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream. Others in the crowd advocated organized labor, voting rights, revamping immigration policies and access to local post offices.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, railed against a recent Supreme Court decision that effectively erased a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis was a leader of a 1965 march, where police beat and gassed marchers who demanded access to voting booths.

"I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Ala., for the right to vote," he said. "I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You've got to stand up. Speak up, speak out and get in the way."

Organizers expected about 100,000 people to participate in the event, the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march that drew some 250,000 to the National Mall and ushered in the idea of massive, nonviolent demonstrations.

Marchers began arriving early today, many staking out their spots as the sun rose in a clear sky over the Capitol. By midday, tens of thousands had gathered on the National Mall.

Lynda Chambers, 58, gave up a day's pay to attend because her retail job does not provide paid vacation. Even as a 7-year-old at the time of the original march, she felt alienated and deprived of her rights. Remembering those feelings, she said, she was compelled to make the trip today.

"I wanted to have some sort of connection to what I have always known, as far as being a black person," she said.

Longtime activist Al Sharpton, now a MSNBC host, implored young black men to respect women and reminded them that two of the leading figures in the civil rights movement of the 1960s were women.

"Rosa Parks wasn't no ho," he said. "And Fannie Lou Hamer wasn't no bitch."

Speakers frequently mentioned persistent high unemployment among blacks, which is about twice that of white Americans, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. Along the Mall, Martin's picture was nearly as ubiquitous as King's.

Nancy Norman, of Seattle, said she was disappointed more people who look like her had not attended. She is white. But the 58-year-old she said she was glad to hear climate change discussed alongside voting rights.

"I'm the kind of person who thinks all of those things are interconnected. Climate change is at the top of my list," Norman said. "I don't think it's one we can set aside for any other discussion."

Those in attendance arrived in a post-9/11 Washington that was very different from the one civil rights leaders visited in 1963.

Then, people crowded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and could get close to King to hear his "I Have a Dream" speech. Today's speakers were also on the memorial's steps, but metal barriers kept people away from the reflecting pool and only a small group of attendees was allowed near the memorial today.

There was a media area and VIP seating. Everyone else had been pushed back and watched and listened to the speeches on big-screen televisions. Police were stationed atop the Lincoln Memorial. After the speeches, marchers walked from there, past the King Memorial, then down the National Mall to the Washington Monument, a distance of just over a mile.

On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He will be joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m. Wednesday, marking the exact time King spoke.

Joseph Lowery, who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with King, urged the crowd to continue working for King's ideals.

"We've come to Washington to commemorate," the 92-year-old civil rights leader said, "and we're going home to agitate."

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EwaWarrior wrote:
Al Shapton is a race baiting mongrel, nothing more. It's a sad state of affairs to see him leading this celebration, as he has done more to keep a brother down rather than lift a brother up! Why is he silent about the killing of the Australian baseball player? Why isn't he asking the DOJ to investigate the murder as a possible civil rights violation or hate crime? Sharp ten couldn't even carry MLK's dream and shouldn't even be involved.
on August 24,2013 | 03:36AM
allie wrote:
True..violence from any source against any target is wrong. We must pray for peace everywhere
on August 24,2013 | 01:29PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Then why do you need that Tongan bodyguard that you claim to have at your beck and call?
on August 24,2013 | 04:04PM
allie wrote:
He is the security on late night duty..he does not work for me.
on August 24,2013 | 05:17PM
hunebasami wrote:
MLK was a peaceful man that had a dream. The rest should join the muslims. They have the same hate.
on August 25,2013 | 10:12AM
South76 wrote:
Let's do what MLK said--let's judge everyone on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin...so no special privileges just because your skin is not white enough, no extra points for not having skin white enough....let's judge you on what you have between your ears and what your hands/feet can do....no more privilege just because you have darker skin. By the way I am Asian, not Caucasian.
on August 24,2013 | 03:52AM
Maili2 wrote:
Right, it's our character and the words we choose backed up by the actions we take that should define us- regardless of skin, and regardless of how much money we have.
on August 24,2013 | 07:03AM
jussayin wrote:
That's how it should be. Same old tiring story.
on August 24,2013 | 07:25AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
So true South76. People of color, like President Obama, Eric Holder, Gen.C.Powell, Gen. Shinseki ,Sen.Akaka and Sen.Inouye, may never realize that dream if not for MLK. They worked hard, studied, became top of their class with no slack cut from anyone. This is what Hard Work America is about. You don't have to be rich and connected to achieve.
on August 24,2013 | 12:12PM
allie wrote:
yes! Hawaiians, although not Native American, tribal or indigenous to any part of the USA, are equal to me, a native American manadan
on August 24,2013 | 01:30PM
allie wrote:
love it!
on August 24,2013 | 05:17PM
peanutgallery wrote:
The NAACP has become one of the most racist institutions in the country. Along with Obama, Sharpton, and Jackson the race-baiting merchants.
on August 24,2013 | 04:52AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Peanut calling the NAACP race baiters! Calling the kettle BLACK?
on August 24,2013 | 12:03PM
oxtail01 wrote:
You should know as a proud card carrying member of the KKK.
on August 25,2013 | 06:20AM
serious wrote:
Peanut, I thoroughly agree with you. Obama is the worst because we expect more from our President. But he hasn't said anything about Jesse's son?????
on August 25,2013 | 08:07AM
HiNaihe808 wrote:
We have civil rights problems at home. Mayor Caldwell is spending millions to harass the homeless by confiscating their belongings. They have to pay $200 to retrieve their belongings. I'd bet they don't have that kind of money. On the other end of Oahu, the Mayor is harassing the Keep the Country Country activists - - -Something fishy is going on with the Mayor. They are also using this sidewalk law for political retaliation against the "Keep the Country Country" activists. - - - - Honolulu Faces Another Free Speech Lawsuit Related to Stored ... hawaii.news.blogs.civilbeat.com/.../honolulu-faces-another-free-speech-l...‎ Aug 16, 2013 - On Tuesday, North Shore resident Choon James filed a lawsuit against the city for tearing down signs she had put up on her property to protest ...
on August 24,2013 | 06:30AM
8082062424 wrote:
We have this one this month .next month on 9 11 there the million Muslim march on Washington about how bad they treated. sad
on August 24,2013 | 08:40AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Instead of agitating, these people should embrace the opportunities provided to them by this great country and strive to better themselves. They believe that they are entitled.
on August 24,2013 | 11:28AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Bash on. Funny these posters put a negative spin on MLK. They were the very ones carrying Billy clubs back in the sixties. No Internet then. Lol.
on August 24,2013 | 12:01PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
50 years of affirmative action and intergenerational welfare have really made a difference, haven't they?
on August 24,2013 | 11:31AM
false wrote:
Surely you jest. MLK's dream result - one step forward, two steps back and never the twain shall meet.
on August 24,2013 | 01:00PM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Because they love keeping the brothers down!
on August 24,2013 | 03:14PM
HD36 wrote:
An 80 year old Colorado WWII veteren was just beaten to death by two black teenagers. If Obama had a son they might have looked like him. The main stream media doesn't want to cover these kinds of incidents because the victim isn't black and the attacker isn't white.
on August 24,2013 | 12:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The name of the original march was "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom". Really...look it up.

Ironic in light of the NSA and other government actions that have taken freedom and I'm still wondering about the jobs promise made by Obama back in the first term.

Nowadays we could use a March on Washington for Less Invasion of Privacy and More Full Time Jobs with Increased Income.

on August 24,2013 | 12:50PM
scooters wrote:
One of our problems is that we are a divided nation when it comes to being referred to as AFRICAN-AMERICANS, HISPANIC-AMERICANS, JAPANESE-AMERICANS, and so on. You can't be both, so which one are you? African or American, Hispanic or American.Get my point? So PC is not always correct. No one is holding down the blacks but themselves. So marching on DC isn't the answer. Anyone who wants to make anything of themselves just needs to DO IT..or be a loser and blame it on someone else.
on August 24,2013 | 12:51PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
One only needs to look at the animal kingdom and see the wide variety of species, such as different birds, fish and especially dolphins.
on August 24,2013 | 02:39PM
HD36 wrote:
True. Over 100,000 Africans have gone to China on scholarships to learn the language and another field. They have then become very succesful business men in Africa partenering with Chinese companies.
on August 24,2013 | 02:54PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
One of the weirdest sightings is when one listens a Black British Citizen sounding British. For example Stevie Wonder is blind I believe from birth yet he can sing "You Are The Sunshine of My Life". Imagine a Human Being able to enunciate the Human Language even without seeing the written word.
on August 25,2013 | 03:41AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Scooter, those names were given to people of different colors because white people wanted it that way. Actually the Americans were the Natives. A extra name like White American should be used.
on August 24,2013 | 08:33PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
u ready to roll with TheRail?
on August 25,2013 | 03:37AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Been going over OJ Simpson's Trial of the Century. They took only 3 and 1/2 hours to acquit OJ. The Deedy trial is only 2 months long and it is already taking 4 days omg.
on August 24,2013 | 02:34PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
But since that trial, OJ's life has been one long search to finally find his wife's killer. He dedicated his life to that quest.
on August 24,2013 | 06:09PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
He looks at him in the mirror everyday. Did u know that Arnelle Simpson was born on December 4, 1968, when OJ was 21, which is the day OJ won the Heisman?
on August 25,2013 | 12:38AM
loio wrote:
Affirmative action and integration for the NFL and NBA! The obvious lack of white players in those leagues means that there must be systemic discrimination against white kids. We're all obviously equal in all respects, so what else but discrimination could explain this. Also in R&B and hip hop music, whites obviously have equal talent, discrimination is the only things keeping those professions from "looking like America".
on August 24,2013 | 03:38PM
IAmSane wrote:
Hahahahahaha.... oh god.......... hahahahaah that was hilarious. :D
on August 24,2013 | 08:24PM
IAmSane wrote:
PS I wonder why there are so few black players in the NHL? I know: must be discrimination.
on August 24,2013 | 08:26PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
How about golf, only Tiger?
on August 25,2013 | 12:39AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Koko, or blacks who have as much talent as Country Western singers but don't break into the genre.
on August 24,2013 | 08:28PM
st1d wrote:
"Speakers frequently mentioned persistent high unemployment among blacks, which is about twice that of white Americans, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. Along the Mall, Martin's picture was nearly as ubiquitous as King's."

and no one mentioned the death of a white veteran at the hands of black teens, or the death of an australian at the hands of black teens, or the beating of a white student by black teens.

until they address the hate crimes of blacks against whites mlk's dream will be a nightmare instead of a promise.

on August 24,2013 | 04:11PM
scooters wrote:
Agree with you st1d...
on August 24,2013 | 04:45PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Yes st1d, or the white sergeant that murders 16 unarmed children and villagers because he hates them and they don't look like him. Yet no death penalty? Wow.
on August 24,2013 | 08:27PM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Well said!
on August 25,2013 | 06:44AM
oxtail01 wrote:
What is the "task"? To get more than 50% of whites to be non-racists? That's an impossible dream.
on August 25,2013 | 06:18AM
Waterman2 wrote:
The task of government is done......it is now time for this group of people to take personal responsibility for their own actions and those of their family children . You can lead a horse to water, but can't make him drink.
on August 25,2013 | 09:27AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, the Black community has squandered the opportunities that older generations of blacks literally fought and died for during an era when segregation was the law of the land. All that this new generation knows is how to constantly play the Victim, blaming their lack of progress on the White Man, racism, and lack of opportunity. Decades of government subsidies, entitlements, racial quotas, set-aside programs, affirmative action, and numerous other give-away programs have failed to pull the Black community from the abyss. Why? The Black community is it's own worst enemy, with race baiters such as Sharpton, Jackson, the New Black Panthers, Farrakhan, et al, never missing an opportunity to exploit and incite the Black community into a frenzy, demonizing the very race (Whites) who fought to right the wrongs of the past, thereby ensuring equality of opportunity. This latest circus in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case was the last straw for me. Every week in Chicago and cities across this country, blacks kill each other with reckless abandon in staggering numbers, yet the leaders of the Black Community can only be counted upon to raise their voices when one of their own is killed by a White (and Hispanic) guy. Where are they with these latest high profile murders of Whites by Blacks? Nowhere to be found. With leaders like this, the Black community will NEVER dig themselves out of the holes they have largely dug for themselves. There seems to be no sense of Personal Responsibility in the Black community. It's always someone ELSE'S fault, not theirs. I'm am SO done with their constant whining and complaining. At some point, we taxpayers are going to expect a return for all the money we've thrown at the problem and continue to. Decades after Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, there isn't much to show for. Members of the Black community who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of themselves are then attacked for being "Uncle Toms". I truly feel sorry for these people, rejected for being "too White". Now, I'll be attacked for daring to call it as I see it. As they say, Sometimes the Truth Hurts. Denial isn't a river in Egypt, folks. And, for the record, I ain't White.
on August 25,2013 | 12:56PM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Because brothers like to keep other brothers down.
on August 25,2013 | 03:12PM
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