Update: Saturday, August 24, 1:34 p.m. EDT:
Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.), the only surviving speaker from the march in 1963, and Cory Booker, the 44-year-old mayor of Newark, N.J., and Democratic candidate for Senate, also spoke to the crowd at the National Mall, USA Today reports.
“We cannot give up. We cannot give out. And we cannot give in,” Lewis said to cheering throngs. Although he acknowledged that the brutal days of civil right struggles are now gone, he said the push for a more perfect America remains. “We must get out there and push and pull,” he said.
“Me and my generation cannot now afford to sit back consuming all of our blessings, getting dumb, fat and happy thinking we have achieved our freedoms,” said Booker.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were among the leaders who kicked off Saturday’s rally, giving moving speeches before throngs of marchers who began arriving at the National Mall at the break of dawn. Both stressed the importance of continuing the fight for jobs, civil rights and racial equality.
“Fired up,” an energized Jealous said, taking the podium as the crowd echoed his rallying call. “Ready to go. Fired up. Ready to go. When they say, no, you can’t, we say, yes, we can. When they say, no, you can’t pass a real racial profiling ban with teeth. We say, yes, we can, because, yes, we did two days ago in New York City.
“When they say, no, you can’t pass the DREAM Act, no, you can’t pass marriage equality, no, you can’t abolish the death penalty, no, you can’t expand voting rights in any state south of the Mason Dixon, we say, yes, we can, because, yes, we did just five miles from here in Maryland last year.”