Who’s Coming to the March on Washington?

Some will come to celebrate and commemorate. Many will arrive with hopes of reinvigorating a movement.

Protesters in favor of the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Protesters in favor of the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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 “I am ready for direct action,” Moore said. “I want to put ALEC and the corporations behind it on notice that they have to stop advancing the interests of the rich white men who run corporations to the exclusion of everyone else, or prepare to pay the consequences. We are going to put them on blast.”

Moore is part of a group considering a boycott of ALEC members’ stores and products.

Sharpton: A Familiar Voice

The work that Moore describes is just the sort of activity that the Rev. Al Sharpton wants to see take over Washington, D.C., in the coming days. Sharpton — a vocal and, in some circles, maligned civil rights activist and television and radio host — is also the head of the National Action Network, an organization of like-minded social-justice workers and volunteers across the country.

“It’s my hope that when we stream into Washington, this would be more than a commemoration,” Sharpton said, “that what we will see is a continuation.”

The architects of the 1963 March on Washington drew what was then the largest-ever protest crowd to the nation’s capital as a physical demonstration of just how serious and committed some Americans were to making equality and justice a real and tangible part of everyone’s lives. The march’s organizers had identified a 10-point list (pdf) of demands.

Some of those demands remain unmet. Others, such as the Voting Rights Act, have been rolled back this year.

NAN has marshaled a fleet of 1,000 buses that will carry activists and those who just want to observe the action from cities around the country to D.C. in the days before the official march anniversary, Sharpton said. The organization saw a burst of interest in seats on its 50- and 55-person buses after the Supreme Court’s June decision to invalidate a key provision of the VRA, he said. Then, after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, interest in NAN’s seats exploded, Sharpton said.

Sharpton’s organization, along with at least two of King’s children, is planning a series of events, marches and protests in the days leading up to the an Aug. 28 March on Washington commemorative program on the National Mall, where President Barack Obama and others are scheduled to speak. 

A NAN rally and march, scheduled for Aug. 24, will also feature members of Trayvon Martin’s family and the family of Emmett Till.