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Call to Action – The Get Your Knee Off Our Necks March on Washington By Kim Furness

The Motivation

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!

March on Washington

When we chant this, do we fully understand the meaning of the words? One thing I know for sure is that racism is no respecter of peace. When I watched the 8 minutes 46-second murder of George Floyd, I knew that we were about to have a true revolution. The eruption of support from the entire WORLD said that this was the tipping point. The best part of this movement is that there is no leader. The leader is the PEOPLE themselves! I knew that this is what I had been waiting for. If you are debating about being unorganized, unpeaceful, rioting, and looting, I do not understand what you don’t understand. All these things are part of revolution and are as American as apple pie. Think Genghis Khan. Think Boston Tea Party. Think your favorite metropolitan museum!

If you still need some help coming to grips with the un-rest, consider this: In data science, this is called The Random Forest. A random forest is a large number of individual decision trees that operate as an ensemble. The fundamental concept here is the wisdom of crowds. This means that the forest will perform better than the individual tree. The forest protects itself from its individual errors. Some trees will be wrong, but many other trees will be right, and as a group, the trees move in the right direction. This worldwide revolution is moving in the right direction.

Now comes Reverend Al Sharpton, N.A.N. (National Action Network) and “Third” (as Jacob Blake lovingly dubbed Martin Luther King III). They announced that they were organizing a March on Washington. A group of friends and I began planning to be a part of this march/forest. As I am sure was the case for many of you who also felt the call to action, concerns over the pandemic prevented two of my friends from going, and so 2 represented the 4.

The Experience

On Friday, August 28, 2020, tens of thousands of Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., under the rallying call of ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’. The march coincided with the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington where he delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. We recommitted ourselves to this fight for justice and began a new battle to eradicate systemic racism and policing reform.

Sue Young and Kim Furness

My friend, Sue, and I Ubered to the National Mall at 14th street, and from there, we made our way in a long line of marchers to the general entrance at 17th St. At the check-in, our temperatures were taken, we were given a NAN branded wristband, masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves. Event organizers also handed out copies of the Constitution, marching signs, buttons, and NAN branded masks. As we approached the Reflecting Pool, we could see that the area in front of the Lincoln Memorial was already crowded. We decided to set up our camp chairs in Constitution Gardens, where we were able to remove our masks and use face shields for a while. There were several jumbotron screens set up for clear viewing of the speakers. Social distancing was possible where we were for a good portion of the pre-march activity. I cannot remember when new people stopped arriving, so as you can imagine, it did get more and more crowded, and we donned our masks again. The schedule called for the march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial to begin at 1 pm. The speakers continued past that mark, and we did not begin marching until 3 pm. The feeling of being there was overwhelming, and I was filled up with emotion many times.

The Best of America was represented in all their forms: Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, White, Other, Gay, and Straight. The speeches called for justice and equality for Black Americans as well as the rights of all other minority groups. In addition to Rev. Al, Martin Luther King III, and Yolanda King (granddaughter of MLK Jr), families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Jacob Blake, and others who were shot or killed by police officers spoke alongside politicians and organization representatives at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.

Words from Reverend Al Sharpton

“This March on Washington shows our commitment to fighting for the oppressed, the marginalized, the neglected people of this country,” said Rev. Al Sharpton. “We are tired of the mistreatment and the violence that we, as Black Americans, have been subjected to for hundreds of years. Like those who marched before us, we are standing up and telling the police, telling lawmakers, telling the people and systems that have kept us down for years, ‘get your knee off our necks.’

Words from Martin Luther King III

“We are in the midst of the largest civil and human rights movement in history. Now is the time, and this is the generation that can realize the dream my father spoke of 57 years ago,” said Martin Luther King, III. “Black Americans are still bearing the same hardships my father worked to eradicate, and the only way we can hope to see the future he dreamt of is by continuing the peaceful and radical work he began years ago.”

What can we do now?

“We didn’t just come today to have a show,” Sharpton said. “Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change.”

Participate in activism- be a pollster, an election judge, volunteer for a campaign, join an organization that works to eradicate racism and injustice, etc. If you are not registered to vote, do so today. Vote early, vote Democratic for top of the ticket on down. Call your Senators and urge them to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act holds law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.

Read the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7120/text

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act aims to fully restore the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Read the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/4263/all-info

The revolution that takes place in your head, nobody will ever see that.” — Gil Scott-Heron

Partners of the Commitment March:

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Americans for Democratic Action (ADA); A Philip Randolph Institute (APRI); Brady; The Community Action Partnership; Dream Corps; Hip Hop Caucus; Hispanic Federation; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Legal Defense Fund (LDF); Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; The Leadership Conference; The NAACP; The National Urban League; The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; The Obsidian Collection; One Union; PERIOD.; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; United Auto Workers (UAW); United Steel Workers (USW); Unidos US.