On the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, thousands of demonstrators are once more marching through DC to demand racial justice. The “Get Off Our Necks Mark,” organized by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, is also featuring speeches from the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Breonna Taylor. Protesters have traveled from near and far to chant their names, along with the names of the many, many Black victims of police violence. Here’s a look at the day:
Dressed in Revolutionary War-era garb, Ricardo Williams from Florida is using his outfit to send a message: “It’s to remind people that Black people have been here since before the US was a country.”
Long Island resident Gretchen woke up at 2 AM to drive down for the march: “It’s just f—ing important right now. We need to do something. We need to stand for action.”
Colorado’s Megan Dogans is wearing a headband embedded with symbolism, recognizing “the ancestors who were picking cotton.” The periwinkle represents unmarked graves of the enslaved. “I know they’re here with us,” says Dogans.
Denorver Garrett says he was first confronted by police at 8 years old, when he was falsely accused of attempting to burn down a trailer: “I feel like it’s hypocritical for us to say on the dollar ‘In God We Trust’ when America doesn’t love us.”
Liz Bonnell and Elyse Nehring traveled from Chicago with painted signs depicting George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “It’s time for white people to come out as well and show they’re allies,” says Nehring. “We’re all human beings and this is police genocide against Americans.”
After flying in from Washington state, Rachel waves a Black Lives Matter flag in front of the Lincoln Memorial. “I think it’s important to protect Black lives,” she says. “I think we’ve all had enough of watching Black people being shot in the street.”
Laurel, Maryland resident Kamil drove in this morning with a sign quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “I came out to support the cause,” he says. “Black lives matter.”
Joseph Tiernan, from Reston, has been participating in DC protests throughout the summer. “It’s a big movement, a big moment,” says Tiernan. “As many people as can be out here need to be out here.”
Anika came from New York on a 4 AM bus organized by Unite NY. “I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to do what we’ve been doing this whole summer, which is continually trying to convince the world of our humanity,” she says.
Kimya from Silver Spring holds a double-sided sign, which also says “the American DREAM is my/your son’s NIGHTMARE.” The message is personal: Kimya has a 16 year old son. “I fear for his life every day,” she says. “We’re just tired. We’re tired. It keeps happening over and over.”
Symone and Noah drove six hours from Cleveland to attend the march. “This [is] protest number ten [for us] since George Floyd’s death,” says Symone. “As an interracial couple, we believe it’s very important for us to show our support and be proud.”
Matt from Falls Church stayed up until 5 AM making his sign. The other side features the words “vote out racism” alongside a photo of Donald Trump. “We need to get people out to the polls,” he says. “It’s a start to the solution—getting people in office who are interested in solving systemic racism.”
Stephen Parlato flew to DC from Boulder, Colorado. “[Trump’s] criminal presidency is festering, and we cannot survive another four years of it,” says Parlato. “It’s as if he was the man sent to destroy America.”
Peridot, Demetria, and Fabienne traveled from Atlanta and New York by plane and train. Their signs feature colorful portraits of George Floyd by Brooklyn printmaking cooperative Shoestring Press.
Arlington resident Virgilio holds up a sign in front of the Lincoln Memorial. “I realized the dream has turned into a nightmare, and I had to stand up and say something,” he says. “Back then, they were fighting for change, and we are still fighting for change now.”
Ten year old journalist Tiana Sirmans came from Delaware to practice her reporting and witness the moment. “It feels good to see so many people like me,” says Sirmans.
Grace is a junior at Howard University. “I’m a Black woman, and it’s been too long,” she says. “We shouldn’t have to be here today.”
Seventy eight year old DC resident Ruth says being at the march reminds her of her grandmother, who was born in 1876. “She told me [future generations] aren’t going to take what we took,” she says. “I see this [and] I feel happy, because I’m seeing the things that my grandmother told me come true.”
Nicole flew from Chicago to be in DC. Why is she marching? “Because I am tired,” she says.
Patti drove down from Point Pleasant, New Jersey this morning with her daughter and her daughter’s girlfriend. “I think it’s important that every generation shows its face and says we’re tired of this,” she says. “Too many moms have had to go on TV and say ‘I lost my child.’”
This post has been updated.