On Friday, activists from across the country will commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington with another demonstration in the nation’s capital, this time centering the victims of state-enabled violence.
With police brutality and racial justice issues commanding an unprecedented amount of political and social energy—and with greater support for criminal justice reform than any previous time in recent memory—there has arguably been no better time to conduct such a march. But, as the Associated Press reports, organizers will need to think of how to conduct the mass demonstration in much different ways—and with much different aims—than in years past due to coronavirus concerns.
The National Action Network, a nationwide civil rights organization headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, will be holding satellite marches in states that are currently hot spots for COVID-19 through its local chapters. In Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas, the AP writes, outdoor jumbo screens will broadcast a live feed of the D.C. rally.
The NAACP, another partner in the rally, will also livestream the march, and the Movement for Black Lives will hold a virtual Black National Convention on Friday night.
This will help organizers avoid violating the guidelines Mayor Muriel Bowswer has set for Washington with regard to coronavirus quarantines. Currently, any visitors coming to D.C. from a place labeled a coronavirus hot spot have to self-quarantine for 14 days once they’re in the city. Bowser has made clear that she will not relax the protocols for the event.
Many activists have already made arrangements to be bussed down to D.C. to participate in the historic rally. Those attending the march in Washington will be required to wear masks, and rally organizers have arranged for hand sanitation stations and temperature checking throughout the event.
Expected to participate in Friday’s march are Martin Luther King III, attorney Benjamin Crump and the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, writes the AP.
Sharpton has encouraged those who cannot travel to Washington to march in their own cities and states—calling for activists to demonstrate in front of the offices of their elected officials to demand voting and criminal justice reforms.
Because of the challenges of the pandemic, Sharpton says the objective this year is not “how many thousands of people will be (in Washington),” though he emphasized that it will still be “a good crowd.”
“The objective is to put on one platform, in the shadow of Abe Lincoln, the families of people that ... have lost loved ones in unchecked racial bias,” the civil rights leader said. “On these steps, Dr. King talked about his dream, and the dream is unfulfilled. This is the Exhibit A of that not being fulfilled.”