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Latest March on Washington More Diverse

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The 50th Anniversary for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom celebrated a more diverse coalition and needs, but the central themes resonated around voting rights, jobs, gun violence and equality in minority communities.

At this year’s march, Blacks, progressive Whites and the labor movement were joined by Latino groups and Native Americans, Asian Americans, the Gay and Lesbian community and members of women’s rights and children’s rights organizations to protect Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder credited Dr. King for bringing about profound changes in the U.S.

“Their march is now our march,” he said. “Our focus has broadened to include the cause of women, of Latinos, of Asian-Americans, of lesbians, of gays, of people with disabilities and of countless others across this great country who still yearn for equality, opportunity and fair treatment as we recommit ourselves to the quest for justice.”

Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network and one of the key organizers of this year’s “National Action to Realize the Dream” said the march was built on activists who stood on the same ground five decades earlier.

“There will be those that miscast this as some great social event but let us remember that 50 years ago some came to Washington having rode on the back of buses, some came to Washington that couldn’t stop and buy a cup of coffee until they got across the Mason-Dixon line, that couldn’t buy a cup of coffee, some came to Washington after sleeping in their cars because they couldn’t rent a motel room, some came to Washington never having had the privilege to vote some came having seen their friends shed blood, but they came to Washington so that we could come today in a different time and a different place and we owe them for what we have today.”

Sharpton upbraided those who denigrate past suffering.

“Don’t act like whatever you achieved you achieved because you were that smart, you got there because some unlettered grandmas who never saw the inside of a college campus who put their bodies on the line in Alabama and Mississippi and sponsored you up here.”

Fifty years ago, Dr. King said that America gave Blacks a check that bounced in the bank of justice and was returned marked insufficient funds.

Sharpton said that we re-deposited the check, only to have the check bounce again.

This time it was marked ‘stop payment,” he said.

“They had the money to bail out banks, they had the money to bail out major corporations, they have the money to give tax benefits for the rich, they have the money for the 1 percent but when it comes to Head Start, when it comes to municipal workers, when it comes to our teachers they stopped the check,” said Sharpton. “We’re going to make you make the check good or we’re going to close down the banks.”

Sharpton said it was only natural that today’s coalition is broader than it was in 1963.

“As we fight for voters’ rights, as we fight for jobs, as we fight for immigration, as we fight for equality let us not try to limit the coalition,” said Sharpton. “We need all of us together.”

Sharpton said that the bogus arguments about ‘well, they didn’t suffer like us’ or ‘they aren’t as bad as us’ are irrelevant today.

“The most insane thing for sick people to do is lay up in the hospital debating about who is the sickest,” said Sharpton.

Sharpton added: “We all need to unite and get well together.”

Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, echoed Sharpton’s appeal to a broader audience.

“All of us, it doesn’t matter if we’re Black, White, Native American, Asian American. It doesn’t matter if we’re straight or gay we are one family we are one house, we all live in the same house.”

Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of SCLC and one of its past presidents, talked about the intervening years between 1963 and now.

“Everything has changed and nothing has changed.” Lowery said “We came to Washington to commemorate, but we are going home to agitate.”

Myrlie Evers-Williams, former board chair of the NAACP and wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers, implored marchers to stand their ground for justice and equality.

“I ask you today to flip that coin and make stand your ground a positive meme for all of us who believe in freedom and justice and equality and that we stand firm on the ground that we have already made and be sure that nothing is taken away from us because there are efforts to turn back the clock of freedom,” she said.

Jesse Jackson, who attended both marches, recalled the time he spent as an aide to Dr. King.

“His [King’s] mission was to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed and he was determined to remain permanently maladjusted until all of God’s children had a meal for their bodies, education for their minds, and health care for their infirmities,” Jackson said.

Families from across the nation attended the march together, the tragedy of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the underlying consequences of racial profiling heavy on their hearts.

Bernadette Jones, 45, attended the march with her husband, Garon Jones, Sr., 46, and her sons, Braxton, 10 and Garon, Jr., 13.

“We’re raising two boys and to know that this society continues to be a society based on injustices and to think what happened to Trayvon could’ve easily happened to our own boys, we wanted to give them an opportunity to experience this and to be a part of history and for us to share this together as a family,” said Bernadette Jones who traveled from Monroe, N.J.

Looking past the march, she said that each day counts and that she wanted to make sure that her sons know that they have a role in this society and to know what they do, moving forward, will determine their destiny.

“This world continues to be cruel and there are a lot of false perceptions about what it is and what it isn’t,” said Jones.

Fourteen-year-old, Garon Jones, Jr. said that it was great to be a part of something that only comes around every 50 years, and plans to remain active in the civil rights movement in his own community.

“I want to make sure that no one is racially profiled by the color of their skin and that they are judged by the content of their character,” said Garon Jones, Jr.

Mtangulizi Sanyika, former professor of African World Studies at Dillard University in New Orleans, attended the 1963 march and noted the differences between that march and the 2013 march.

“There was an intensity in the air,” said Sanyika of the 1963 march. “There was a deep concern about the role of the federal government and the Kennedy administration there was a concern about the movement and whether the movement was going to be crushed or not there was tension about John Lewis’ speech and there was an over coalition of religious organizations and labor in the planning designing and delivery of that march.”

Sanyika said that this year’s march addressed a wider range of issues from racism to anti-war issues to immigration reform, over incarceration issues, and protection of children’s rights issues women’s rights issues.

“That is the brilliance of this march,” said Sanyika. “It’s a mass tent. It’s a mass process. You have a wide variety of issues on the table. It’s fundamentally good that something like this happened, because it shows the energy for mass movement for progressive democracy in this country.

Sanyika added: “It demonstrates that this movement is still alive.”

Sanyika also said: “We have a set of issues beyond what we had in 1963, which was civil rights legislation and jobs. Here you see the full maturation of mass-based Black politics. I think this march was of extraordinary significance for those reasons.”

Spirit of '63 Revived in Memorial March on Washington

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Thousands Re-Create Mood, Intensity of Peaceful March a Half-Century Ago

By Gregory Dale
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

Tens of thousands of demonstrators convened in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 24 to demand justice and jobs in an emotional and peaceful commemoration of the historic 1963 March on Washington.

Themed a“National Action to Realize the Dream,” the March on Washington 2013, and a rally before the march, paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the very spot 50 years ago.

Many in the crowd carried signs extolling the wrong done to Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, who was first killed by George Zimmerman, then became the victim of character assassination by some who believed that his killer was right to shoot the unarmed Black teenager. Among the hottest selling souvenirs were T-shirts emblazoned with Trayvon’s image. His mother, Sybrina Fulton, spoke during the program; she was accompanied by his father, Tracy Martin, and several loved ones.

Many of the nation’s best known and most-loved and respected Black leaders took the stage, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Martin Luther King, III; Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of martyred civil rights activist Medgar Evers; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who drew thunderous applause and cheers when he was recognized for his service to African Americans’ struggle for freedom by the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the event’s organizers; and Dr. Joseph Lowery, the SCLC co-founder who urged the crowd to “agitate,” using the same action word Frederick Douglass used to urge Blacks to action more than 120 years ago.

“Everything has changed and nothing has changed,” Lowery said, as the dignitaries on the dais prepared to take to the street in a march to the Washington Monument. “We came to Washington to commemorate, but we are going home to agitate.”

Organizers estimated the crowd at 100,000—men, women, children, Black, White, Latino, Asian, straight, gay and bi-sexual, Protestant, Catholic and agnostic. The common denominator among participants was a desire to see all citizens in this nation treated equally.

King III, who was a small child when his father was assassinated just five years after the 1963 March on Washington, urged the crowd, with the sun shining on a picture-perfect day, to continue the quest for his father’s dream of justice and jobs.

“We need to keep on walking, keep on talking and keep on educating,” he said in a tone that eerily mirrored his father’s a half-century ago. King III called for a new plan to provide jobs in the wake of a struggling economy as he urged an end of senseless violence around the country.

“No more Newtowns, no more Columbines and no more violence in Chicago,” he told the crowd, drawing applause.

Sharpton, leader of the National Action Network, took the stage with a call to action of his own.

“We believe in a new America!” he said. “It’s time to march for a new America!” Sharpton harkened back to the original march. “Fifty years ago, some came to Washington and rode on the back of busses. Some couldn’t stay in hotel rooms and had to sleep in cars,” he said.

Today, Blacks have access to hotels and public transportation, but so much more still eludes them, leaders said. Sharpton later urged generations young and old to come together to fight against the injustices and social ills that plague Black progress.

Sharpton and King were the key organizers of the event, pulling more than 40 groups together under the umbrella of a commemoration of the 1963 march. Included in this event were Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Service Employees International Union, the NAACP and the American Federation of Teachers.

While the often thunderous oratory centered on overcoming racism and injustice, speaker after speaker fired out at unemployment, the erosion of voting rights, gun violence, the lack of women’s rights and the need for immigration reform. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, one of the speakers at the pre-march rally, also spoke earlier in the day at a rally for D.C. statehood held at the National War Memorial, also on the National Mall.

For those returning to the scene of the historic gathering 50 years, the talk was of unfinished business.

“We have more poverty in D.C. than we had 50 years ago,” said D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry, whose political career was forged by his role as a leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s and 1970s. He added that today there is “more unemployment, more homeless and more poor people. We’ve got a long way to go.”

The youth contingent was typified by Kayla Williams, 22, of Buffalo, N.Y.

“It’s about re-walking the steps and taking the steps to not only remember the fight for justice and equality 50 years ago, but continue it as well,” she told the AFRO. “It goes to show that there are still things that we need to fight for. And taking the steps that my forebearers took is very important to me.”

Among those in the crowd were new citizens., including Eva Ablorh, 63, who currently lives in Northern Virginia, but is originally from Ghana.

“I’m not originally from this country, but when I immigrated here, I realized that people have gone through a whole lot to be able to fit into this society,” she said. “Their work is still not done. The march is very important because it is a reminder to the younger generation that there is something to be serious about. They need to stand up and [carry] the mantle forward. People have suffered and died to get to where we are right now.”

'Keep on Walking, Keep on Talking,' MLK III Urges Marchers

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Crowd Covers National Mall for 50th Anniversary of 1963 March

By Gregory Dale
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

At the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, a host of dignitaries lined the stage situated at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Under clear blue skies, leaders discussed why they’re still marching a half century later.

Martin Luther King Jr. III took the stage roughly at 12:43 pm. In a tone that eerily mirrored his father’s, he discussed how America needs a new plan to provide jobs in the wake of a struggling economy.

He also called for the end of senseless violence around the country.

“My father [Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] sought the blood of the community. No more Newtowns, no more Columbines and no more violence in Chicago,” he said. “We need to keep on walking, keep on talking and keep on educating.”

Shortly thereafter, National Action Network (NAN) leader Al Sharpton took the stage and opened by discussing the struggles Black participants in the ’63 march faced just to make it to the Nation’s Capital.

“Fifty years ago, some came to Washington and rode on the back of the bus. Some couldn’t stay in hotel rooms and had to sleep in cars,” he said.

He later urged generations young and old to come together and fight for injustices and social ills around the nation.

After Sharpton’s speech the crowd exploded in applause and cheers.

$100K Grant for SLU Researcher to Probe Health of Black Men

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By Sandra Jordan
Special to the NNPA from The St. Louis American

Keon Gilbert, assistant professor in the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University, has received a $100,000, two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to determine which behaviors and policies are most likely to improve the health of African-American men.

The New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming career development grant engages young researchers and experts from historically under-represented groups, such as members of a racial or ethnic minority or the first in their families to attend college.

Gilbert will study the many factors that influence African-American men in their decisions about seeking preventive health care and engaging in healthy behaviors. His research will address racial, ethnic and gender health disparities and identify effective community-based intervention strategies.

“This grant will provide me with an opportunity to try and engage not only men who are medically underserved, but to begin to engage a range of interested parties such as physicians, nurses, business and community leaders,” Gilbert said.

“In many ways, I want this grant opportunity to become a rallying cry for those concerned individuals and groups to discuss and develop strategies to improve the health and well-being of black men in this area.”

Gilbert, who has master’s degrees in public affairs and African-American studies as well as a doctorate in behavioral community health sciences, said he discovered his passion for African-American men’s health during his Kellogg Health Scholars post-doctoral training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“It opened my eyes to the unique and complex issues that African-American men face,” he said. “It fit with my interest in disease prevention and health promotion and gave me a specific group of people of focus on.”

Typically, healthy men don’t go to the doctor as frequently as women partly because of the absence of structured medical appointments that females have, such as regular mammograms and pap smears to serve as reminders that it’s time to get an annual physical.

“There also is this piece of masculinity embedded into the understanding of why men behave differently than women,” Gilbert said. “Masculinity is formed and shaped differently in black communities than white communities.”

African-American men are more likely to avoid doctors than Caucasians, Gilbert said.

“They don’t make the time to take care of their health,” Gilbert said. “African-American men also may feel distrustful of doctors and the health care system. They are more likely to shut down and not return rather than to find a new doctor.”

As a group, African-American men face additional challenges, Gilbert added. They tend to have less education and fewer social supports than Caucasians. They are more likely to live in poverty with fewer resources.

Because passage of the Affordable Care Act gives all U.S. residents easier access to health care, Gilbert believes now is an opportune time to engage African-American men in the health care system.

Enrollment through the Gateway to Better Health demonstration project funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the public health centers has opened the door for many men to access and utilize healthcare services.

Gilbert said he will build on the research of others in understanding the unique profile of African-American and examine which behaviors, such as diet, exercise and stress relief, are most relevant to keeping them healthy.

As he conducts his research, Gilbert will network with mentors, recipients of New Connections grants and other researchers funded by RWJF engaged in parallel work and studying topics in adjacent areas.

“I hope that as more people find out about the work I am doing that they will want to become full partners to address the health and well-being of black men in the St. Louis area,” Gilbert said.

“I want fraternities, the Urban League, 100 Black Men, physicians, factory workers, cooks – the whole spectrum of organizations that work with black men and those organizations and concerned citizens – to become aware and want to help with this initiative.”

Mugabe Cheered by Regional Group – Elections Confirmed by Court

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

(GIN) – After a standing ovation and a seemingly interminable chorus of clapping and ululating, newly-re-elected President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe gave a fist salute to the crowd at the Bingu International conference Centre Hall where the South African Development Community (SADC) summit was held.

Leaders of the 15 nation SADC, which had monitored Mugabe’s recent election, announced the appointment of Mugabe as deputy chair of the group. This means President Mugabe will become the next chair of the regional grouping next year after Malawi completes her one-year term and Harare will host the bloc’s Heads of State and Government.

The Summit was held in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe.

The development is a clear sign yet that regional leaders accept results of the July 31 elections and are confident of Zimbabwe’s political future.

Mugabe took the opportunity to scorn his critics in the international community. “I have nothing to do with the British, I have nothing to do with the Americans,” said the 89-year-old Zimbabwean leader. “We make our decisions as African people, and those are the decisions we go by.”

“I am Robert Mugabe, a Zimbabwean and African,” said the 89 year old African leader.

On Sunday the regional body called for “the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe”, leveled against the veteran president and blacklisted firms and individuals.

“Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” said the regional bloc’s incoming chairperson, President Joyce Banda of Malawi.

Meanwhile, in a not unexpected development, Zimbabwe’s constitutional court upheld the disputed election, calling it free, fair and credible.

“The presidential election held on July 31, 2013 was in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe,” said Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Tuesday.

One test of the president’s new economic initiative will be the fulfillment of promises to war veterans, ex-detainees and the 230,000-strong public sector workers who are all expected to see an upward adjustment in their salaries.

Meanwhile, the United States remains opposed to lifting sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his aides.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday the U.S. program of what it calls “targeted” sanctions will remain in force as long as “serious flaws” persist in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.

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