Martin Luther King III calls on March on Washington to pursue his father's vision of equality
On the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, King’s oldest son addressed a crowd of thousands from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial urging them to continue his father’s pursuit for racial equality.
“We are taking a step forward on America’s rocky but righteous journey towards justice,” Martin Luther King III said Friday afternoon at the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington.
“Aug. 28 is a day to remember the triumphs and tragedies that have taken place in our historic struggle for racial justice. Today we commemorate the March on Washington in 1963 where my father declared his dream,” King said.
“But we must never forget the American nightmare of racist violence exemplified when Emmett Till was murdered on this day in 1955 and the criminal justice system failed to convict his killers,” he added.
The march that brought thousands of people from across the country to the nation’s capital was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network following the death of George Floyd in May.
Floyd died on Memorial Day after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded with the officer that he couldn’t breathe.
The incident sparked waves of protests and a racial reckoning in the U.S. focused on ending police brutality.
More recently, protests broke out this week following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after police shot him seven times in the back. His family says he is currently paralyzed.
King told the crowd there are no permanent victories in their struggle for justice and called on them to march to the ballot box to defend the freedoms that earlier generations worked to win.
Martin Luther King III: "The progress we celebrated is imperiled yet again. Now we have must march to the ballot box and the mailboxes to defend the freedom that earlier generations worked so hard to win." #MarchOnWashington pic.twitter.com/wFzo9vCnJt
— The Hill (@thehill) August 28, 2020
“With all these threats to our lives and liberties, our challenge is to use this moment to expand this movement. ... A movement that not only raises his [Martin Luther King Jr.'s] voice, but casts his votes, pursues his vision and makes lasting change,” he said.
He called the march on Friday the most active multigenerational, multiracial movement for civil rights since the 1960s and told the audience they were making history together.
King was introduced by his 12-year-old daughter Yolanda Renee King, who gave a fiery speech declaring her generation would be the one to put an end to systemic racism, police brutality, gun violence, poverty and climate change.
The event also included remarks from the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and Blake.