David Barrows of Washington, D.C., carries a “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied” sign with the Washington Monument in the background. Civil rights leader Al Sharpton organized the "We Shall Not Be Moved” march Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

‘We Shall Not Be Moved’ marchers honor King, fight fear of Trump

WASHINGTON (RNS)  Crying out “no justice, no peace,” crowds joined the Rev. Al Sharpton in a weekend march toward the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial vowing not to let President-elect Donald Trump turn back strides made by the civil rights leader.

The mostly African-American throng — smaller than the thousands expected due to the steady rain — heard from civic and religious leaders about key areas of concern: health care, voting rights, economic equality and police brutality and reform.

“We are gathered here and we marched in the driving rain because we want this nation to understand that what has been fought for and gained, that you’re going to need more than one election to turn it around,” said Sharpton, whose National Action Network sponsored the march.

From early in the gathering on Saturday (Jan. 14), speakers cautioned the crowd not to fear the future.

“The world out there may be in disarray today but God has got this, so we’re not worried because we know how to fall down on our knees and pray and God always gives us the victory sign,” said E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women. “There are a lot of people who want to dishonor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but we shall not be moved. It will not happen and we will move forward.”

The Rev. Nelson Rivers, vice president for religious affairs for NAN, urged ralliers to remember King’s message of justice all throughout the year and “be his movement” not just on the holiday that marks his birthday Monday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, center, founder of the National Action Network, joins other civil rights leaders at the front of the “We Shall Not Be Moved” march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14, 2017, ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was joined by, to his left, Urban League President Marc Morial and Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

The Rev. Al Sharpton, center, founder of the National Action Network, joins other civil rights leaders at the front of the “We Shall Not Be Moved” march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14, 2017, ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was joined by, to his left, Urban League President Marc Morial and Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Rivers said black churches, black media and black social media were the key promoters of the rally. The majority of the board of NAN, a civil rights organization founded in 1991, are members of the clergy.

Trump’s election campaign comments put off some African-Americans with his descriptions of the plight of urban centers and questions like “What have you go to lose?” about voting for him.

“He doesn’t have a clue,” said Rivers. “He doesn’t know enough about black folk to talk about black folk.”

The marchers, whose theme was “We Shall Not Be Moved” (the title of an African-American spiritual), ranged from children to seniors with a significant showing of millennials as well. A rainbow-colored “Peace” flag could be seen in the crowd. A little girl carried a Mexican flag. A white couple carried pink signs about supporting Planned Parenthood. And one of the signs held highest during the march, with the words “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied,” was held by a 69-year-old white Quaker man.

As they gathered in the shadow of King’s memorial to hear from civil rights and labor leaders, pastors and politicians, the need for unity on key issues was sounded repeatedly.

“It’s time for us to stop being separated by colors,” said Elder Michael Cummings, president of the NAN chapter in Watts, Calif. “The only thing need to be separated by colors is our laundry.”

The Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University scholar and author on racial issues, sounded a similar theme.

“We must dig deep; we must remember that we are all in this together -- gay and straight and lesbian and transgender and bisexual, Christian and Muslim, black and white,” he said, noting that the American working class comes in all colors.

“What we must tell our white brothers and sisters is, is that you have to learn from us as well,” Dyson said as the rally concluded. “Don’t be hoodwinked and snookered by investing in white supremacy and the unconscious reflex of bigotry. You got to push beyond that to understand that we are all in this together.”

Katrina Jefferson, 37, the New York City chapter liaison for NAN, and the daughter of a Full Gospel Baptist bishop, said there is a “long road of learning” ahead for Trump about the contributions of African-Americans to the country.

“There are elements of that sort of stance that are accurate,” she said of his descriptions of inner cities. “But there’s a whole other side that he negates by slamming the African-American and brown communities with those labels, those qualifiers.”

Another New Yorker, Laverne Mason, 58, a Methodist from Manhattan, stood at the rally after the marching ended, holding an American flag reconfigured with the African colors of red, black and green to represent advances made by African-Americans.

“I strongly feel that this administration is poised to roll us back 100 years or more,” she said.

But Rivers said he hoped ralliers would remain vigilant and recall the lessons of history.

“Reagan was the worst president of my lifetime but he still was the one that was forced to sign the King bill making his birthday a holiday. He signed the Voting Rights Act extension,” he said. “So we ought not be afraid. Donald Trump is not king or fuhrer. He is elected president. And we’re not afraid of him.”

Comments

  1. Hey Rev. Al Sharpton, where were you when Mr. Obama turned your country into a cesspool of immorality?

  2. “The Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University scholar and author on racial issues, sounded a similar theme.
    “We must dig deep; we must remember that we are all in this together — gay and straight and lesbian and transgender and bisexual, Christian and Muslim, black and white,” he said noting that the American working class comes in all colors.” What are you doing to help homosexuals find life, and life more abundantly?

  3. Aren’t the Trump supporters the ones looking for jobs? For their orange skinned savior to magically bring back industries which left decades ago?

    They don’t seem to be a bright bunch and they are prone to uncivil public outbursts. Pretty unpleasant crowd.

  4. “Nothing’s more disgusting than a bunch of smelly welfare leeches pretending they’re virtuous”?

    That is a deceitful and unconscionable expression of “Us vs. Them” selfishness, self-exalted elitism, willful ignorance, and prejudice at its very worst and most harmful — not only to “them”, but to society, and to our ideals of morality, humility, and decency.

    “We” don’t even acknowledge that “they” are individual persons and families, each living according to their own unique set of beliefs, values, objectives, priorities, aspirations, limitations, guesses, and compromises. The only difference between them and us is that we have the meanness and the opportunity. We use our right to congress to concoct a bunch of little non-white lives about them; then we deplore the lives that we lie that they live; then we SNAP their lifelines and force them to choose: Homelessness or prison? That’s how we care for our “entitled” poor.

    “These people contribute nothing at all to America, and the productive citizens feed and house them”?

    “We” need to look in a mirror and ask ourselves what entitlement really is.

  5. Oh yeah it was so much more moral with Shrub in the White House.

  6. The idea that civil rights gains will be rolled back “100 years” by the Trump administration is patently a paranoid and hysterical response to the election.

  7. Though Sandi and I find common cause on many issues socially and theologically, I would not argue that the present state of America morally speaking is substantively a function of the present administration’s policies, but I would agree that it has done some things that have not improved that condition. Presidential administrations typically do not lead the way on social or cultural questions but rather follow the lead of the populace. The lead in recent history has been dominated by cultural elites in govt., education, and media who are generally at a far remove from the concerns of the average citizen, both economically and socially. While great contention remains as a result of differing visions of American values, the trend towards progressivism, and I use the term advisedly, long predated either of the two administrations noted in these comments.

  8. You want to protest Trump then take real action:
    1. Work to challenge voter ID laws, in your state. These laws serve to keep urban loot and elderly voters crow the polls. Modern day poll taxes.

    2. Take those mid term elections seriously. Work with voter registration drives. This is the period with the lowest turnout but greatest effect on sitting presidents. Work to send as many of his enablers home.

    3. Donate to groups dedicated to taking legal action to defend the rights of others.

  9. I’ve no doubt that barring an epiphany of dynamic proportions and an accompanying repentance, President Obama will no doubt be called to account before God one day for certain and specific acts related to his governmental directives as Chief Executive. My broader point, of course, was that we have been on this course for some time, a course with multiple divergences from what you and I would consider a obedient adherence to scriptural commands; but then that has been the history of many nations. I am as disturbed by it as you, but without some compelling discipline or judgment from God as a consequence, I’m not confident of our national repentance. Perhaps we are indeed approaching the final lap of the race…which makes it more urgent for us to stand in defense of God’s Word. And I applaud your efforts and find no fault with them, but I suppose that my own strategy differs slightly; we all have different gifts from God and different temperaments and our usefulness manifests itself in different ways.

  10. I dare Al Sharpton to show up in this religion forum for five minutes, to discuss his messed-up gig.

    (That’s not going to happen, of course, but I’ve always wanted to say it out loud! )

  11. I predict Al Sharpton gets a visit from the tax man this year

  12. The voting rights act is being rolled back, certain states have their own version of a poll tax, we have segments of the population seeking to reintroduce segregation in open commerce, there is strong support of registering people on the basis of their religion, and we have a candidate for attorney general with a history of using legal force to harass civil rights workers.

    The fear is genuine and we’ll founded.

  13. I only wish these problems were limited to the Trump House…

  14. It’s been going on for way too long. But Trump annoys enough people that it might get people to take notice of the situation.

  15. I hope so. He’s certainly making it easy, even for his most ardent non-rich supporters, to tell where his values, objectives, priorities, loyalties, and truths lie.

  16. There is NO version of a poll tax. If you mean the photo ID laws, that is merely to stop you liberals from your version of Chicago’s motto: Vote early and vote often! The idea that we should just take your word for who you are doesn’t work anywhere else in America and we are supposed to invite fraud with a wink-wink? Besides, how many blacks don’t have one form of photo ID?

  17. The Rev. Al Sharpton. There’s a joke title. I doubt the media-chaser could preach himself out of a wet paper bag. Remember Tawana Brawley, Rev Al? You are a fraud, a joke, and certainly no preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All you do is chase the media cameras.

  18. You know why they aren’t all rocket scientists? Because they have no idea about family life, responsibility, and work. They run around loudly proclaiming their victimhood while the rest of us buckle down and get somewhere in the world.

  19. “Life more abundantly” is term for Christians, meaning those who follow Jesus Christ. You cannot be a sinner unwilling to renounce your sins and expect to be accepted as Christians. Homosexuals can only find “life more abundantly” if they repent of their sin.

  20. Of course there is. Voter ID laws are allegedly meant to to solve a problem which is infinitesimal to non-existent but has the documented effect of preventing somewhere between 3-5% of people likely to vote Democrat from the polls.

    Whereas you have silly slogans, and poo flinging, I have a detailed study on the subject below. But I doubt you are going to bother to read it.
    https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/voter-fraud

    https://www.brennancenter.org/page/-/The%20Truth%20About%20Voter%20Fraud.pdf

    “Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, often prove greatly
    exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim (“Tens of
    thousands may be voting illegally!”); the follow-up – when any exists –
    is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the
    claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much
    fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.”

    “Besides, how many blacks don’t have one form of photo ID?”

    Since they write the laws to keep them from using the forms of ID they are most likely to have, the answer is “enough to cause significant disenfranchisement”. Its especially galling that in those states, urban DMV offices are shut down at the same time in the name of phony “fiscal responsibility”.

    More importantly the racial disenfranchisement element has already been documented among politicians who propose these laws. This was already demonstrated when NC’s law was shot down by the Federal Court.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/appeals-court-strikes-down-north-carolinas-voter-id-law/2016/07/29/810b5844-4f72-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html?utm_term=.96bfa1c0e5a7

    Fact of the matter is, you can’t justify the voter ID laws in of themselves. Voter Fraud simply isn’t there in enough numbers to justify the effect it has on legitimate voters. Why should our most important right be made intentionally difficult for the poor and elderly?

  21. It’s good that citizens continue efforts to make their voices heard, it’s the American way. There are grave concerns with the incoming administration. Ending Obamacare with no substitute, rolling back equal civil rights for POC, LBTG, the poor, disabled, etc.

    And administration stocked with the ultra rich who’ve no idea how the 99% live, does not bode well. Then there is the known racist, Sessions, at the head of the Department of Justice. I’m afraid it will become the Office of “Injustice.”

    Protests need to continue so that voices might be heard over the din of the uber wealthy, over corporate lobbyists, and of course, over the pres-elect’s owner and best buddy, Putie.

  22. “they have no idea”?
    “They run around loudly”?
    — “We” are the ones who ignorantly claim “They” are “all alike”.

    “while the rest of us buckle down”?
    — “We” are the ones who ignorantly claim “We” are “better”.

    “We” are the ones who concoct a bunch of little non-white lives about “Them”.

    “We” are the ones who deplore the lives that we lie that “They” live.

    “We” are the ones who deny — who fail to see — who refuse to admit even to ourselves — that “They” are individual persons and families, each living according to their own unique set of beliefs, values, goals, priorities, aspirations, limitations, guesses, and compromises; each with their own problems; each with their own needs — just like “Us”.

    “they aren’t all rocket scientists”?
    — Neither are “We”.

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