Sunday, August 25, 2013

Clevelanders, community activists, massive crowd join Rev Sharpton and his National Action Network at the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington, voting rights center stage, Rep Fudge, other Black women of Ohio shine as speakers, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says equality not yet reached and will not be reached until "all are treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praises Obama, Rep Fudge, calls the Congressional Black Caucus the "conscience of Congress," MLK III says "we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around," Rep. John Lewis, 73, still fighting for voting rights for Black America

The 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, held Saturday August 24, 2013,
brought a melting pot of people to the nation's capital in Washington, D.C.  to pay tribute to the legacy of the late Civil Rights Icon The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Led by the Rev Al Sharpton,  the march was one of the most successful Civil Rights marches on American soil 
in decades, drawing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.


The Late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By Johnette Jernigan, staff reporter, and Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief,   Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com, Ohio's No 1 and No 2 online Black newspapers ( and ( Reach us by phone at 216-659-0473 and by email at editor@clevelandurbannews.comKathy Wray Coleman is a former biology teacher and a 20-year investigative Black journalist who trained for some 15 years at the Call and Post Newspaper.

From left, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-3) of Ohio, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-11 ) of Ohio, who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus of members of Blacks in Congress, Longtime Congressman John Lewis (D-5) of Georgia, and Congressman G.K. Butterfileld (D-1) of North Carolina at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.-"We ain't gonna let nobody turn us around," said Martin Luther King III (pictured), the eldest son of the four children of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King  before a crowd of tens of thousands of people who rallied  in Washington D.C.  Saturday morning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington and King's historic "I Have A Dream" speech.

Dozens of buses left Cleveland, OH. Friday night for the overnight trip, some sponsored by greater Cleveland NAN, the AFL-CIO North Shore Federation of Labor,  and the Cleveland NAACP.

"I'm  going with the AFL-CIO," said Cleveland community activist Amy Hurd, hours before leaving for D.C. Friday night at 11:30 pm for the $45-a-person , round-trip bus ride.   Other greater Cleveland community activists that took the trip include Dionne Thomas Carmichael, William Clarence Marshall and Betty Mahone, owner and operator of the Chateau in East Cleveland, OH. 
Young and old, gay and straight, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and other nationalities, the gathering was a melting pot of people committed to paying their respects to King's legacy, 50 years after the Civil Rights leader made probably the nation's most memorable speech of all time.  And the Black community was there in full force,  experts still trying to determine how close the numbers of the total  are to the 250,000 that  stood before the Lincoln Memorial under King's leadership in 1963  when he was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a title he held until his untimely death at 38-year-old. 

Saturday's event was organized by Civil Rights icon the Rev Al Sharpton, and his National Action Network in cooperation with his local chapter groups of NAN  and a host of other Civil Rights and labor organizations from across the country. MLK III  was among dozens of speakers that drove home the elder King's message  on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday morning. That is where the younger King's famous father stood and spoke 50 years  ago, and five years before he was slain on a Tennessee balcony in 1968, there for a working rights boycott.

Sharpton was a keynote speaker at the rally and called for Congress to address state legislators and state secretaries of state changing state voting laws with the intent 
to suppress the Black vote, and he preached that African-Americans are overwhelmed with poverty while the federal government "bails out the banks."  

U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-5) of Georgia was the only original speaker left from the 1963 March on Washington. 

"I'm not going to let them take the right to vote from us," said Lewis, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year in Shelby County vs. Holder that eliminated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required 15 states, excluding Ohio, to get permission  to change voting laws, a ruling also  that in other respects impacts all 50 states, including Ohio.  

"You've got to stand up, speak up and get in the way," said Lewis, 73.

This time women were empowered as speakers, which the 1963 event precluded. And the women speakers on Saturday were influential women of power including Nancy Pelosi (D-12) of California, who is the powerful minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives,  National Council of Negro Women Chair Ingrid Saunders Jones,  National Planned Parent Hood President Cecile Richards, and U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-11) of Ohio, also chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of Blacks in Congress.  Other Ohio women leaders,  including state Rep. Alicia Reece (D-33) of Cincinnati, who chairs the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, and Margo Copeland, a top Black executive at Key Bank in the Cleveland area and national president of the prestigious Links Inc.,  spoke too.  

 Reece gave a fierce speech on voting rights, and both she and Pelosi spoke on women's rights. Pelosi praised President Obama, and Rep. Fudge.

"Today we have an African American president and the first family so beautifully leading our country," said Pelosi. "

 Fifty years ago, Pelosi said, there were only five African-Americans in Congress and now there are 43, and she said that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), under the leadership of Fudge, is the "conscience of Congress." 

Fudge leads the majority Black 11th congressional district. It includes the majority Black east side of Cleveland and some of its eastern suburbs, parts of Summit County, and a Black pocket of Akron, a Summit County city 30 miles south of Cleveland. She is a former Warrensville  Heights, OH mayor, and a past national president of Delta Sigma Theta Inc.

"We've come this far by faith, we cannot turn back now or lose faith," said Fudge. "The efforts we've seen to roll back the clock must fire up the Civil Rights movement of today."

The theme of the  rally and march, which had a Democratic thrust, was as it was five decades ago,  jobs, justice, freedom,  and equal protection under the law for Black and other Americans. Highlights were  foreclosures, voting  rights, women's rights, the gay movement, education, jobs, immigration reform and the legal system.

Trayvon Martin was remembered, his parents and lawyers for the family among those there.

A 17 year-old Black teen slain earlier this year in a Sanford Florida suburb by volunteer night watchman George Zimmerman, whom a jury cleared of second degree murder and other criminal charges,  Martin's death, and what Blacks, and some Whites see as justice denied, has stung the Black community, and has caused racial unrest.

 After the rally, one with invigorating speeches and the who's who of Black leaders across America, and a multitude of organizational speakers including those on behalf of the National Organization for Women, the National Teachers Association, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Urban League, the crowd marched down the street to the Martin Luther King Memorial. Some rally participants chanted with chants like "education is a right, not just for the rich and White."

U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the first Black to hold the post, got entree for his speech, taking a little more time than some of the others speakers that were limited to 2 minutes. He, like many of the other speakers, paid tribute to Civil Rights pioneers such Fannie Lou Hammer, Whitney Young, Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan.

"But for them I would not be attorney general and Barack Obama president of the United States,"  Holder said at the rally.

Holder said that America's prosperity depends on its commitment to equal opportunity and that the fight for fair play must continue until "all are treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law."

 Other notable rally speakers were Civil Rights icon the Rev Jesse Jackson Sr., Radio Personality Tom Joyner, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and former NAACP Executive Board Chairman Julian Bond.

Other Black members of Congress there include U. S. Rep Joyce Beatty (D-3), a Columbus Democrat, and Congressman G.T. Butterfield (D-1) of North Carolina.

Betty Morgan, 66, and of Cleveland, who traveled with her 11 year old grandson Daniel, said the trip was worthwhile.

"I feel hopeful that the struggle can continue after seeing pioneers and new recruits at today's rally," said Morgan Saturday afternoon after boarding a bus back to Cleveland from D.C.  

Morgan said that King's dream has not been fulfilled. Other Black Clevelanders that took the trip to march for a better America agree.

"Today they spoke with a desire and commitment to go back to their homes and neighborhoods to make a difference," said the Rev. Dr Andrew Clark, 52, senior pastor  at Trinities Outreach Ministries Church of God and Christ in Cleveland.

Sarah Davidson, 66, and of Silver Spring, MD, was 1 5 years-old in 1963 when she participated in the March on Washington. 
"My parents had to pay a poll tax to vote and that was the way then to disfranchise Black voters," said Davidson, whose Maryland home is 20 miles north of D.C. . 

"It is sad to see the voter suppression today  by the passage of state laws as another way of disfranchising the Black vote," Davidson told Cleveland Urban News.Com at the rally as she held up a sign that read "I was here in 1963."