Another March with Rev. Al Sharpton, you can’t be serious. That was the response I received from several of my millennial peers when I announced that I was helping to plan a January 2017 march in Washington in response to the election of President-Elect Donald Trump. My friends were appalled at the mention of a march and even more appalled when they heard that Rev. Sharpton was leading it. Why another march and why now? There are many who believe modern marches and rallies have produced little to no results and therefore it’s no longer necessary. Others believe that a march lead by Rev. Sharpton is more about him getting the spotlight than addressing issues. This disillusionment with marching often comes from a generation who’s seen far too many marches and far too little change. The August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is viewed as successful because it produced the civil rights act of 1964 and voting rights in 1965. People are tired of being inspired to march out of passion but not impacting policy. While some of the assessments of Rev. Sharpton may be true, we shouldn’t lose sight of what’s at stake. My generation did not have to fight for the gains of the civil rights era but we will have to fight to keep them. I’m marching because policy matters more than personality. Let’s consider why we should march and why now.
Voting Rights Act Reinstated
The 1963 march on Washington resulted in the voting rights act of 1965, in 2013 the Supreme Court cut away vital parts of it, our voices weren’t loud enough. Now southern states can change their election laws without federal approval. Here’s what that means, states can redistrict and fewer pole watches are available to stop voter suppression, your vote may not count.
Prison Industrial Complex
Three strikes you’re out and mandatory minimums have gutted many minority communities snatching fathers from homes and leaving children with few role models. Here’s what that means, the prison industrial complex effectively enslaves over 2 million citizens and state tax payers are footing the bill. Mr. Trump is chosen Senator Jeff Sessions as his nominee for Attorney General. Mr. Sessions is one of the most anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT, and anti-police reform members of the senate. Mr. Sessions also favors privatized prisons.
The senseless killing of African Americans at the hands of rogue cops inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, and while many marched, most didn’t, our voices weren’t loud enough. Now states are enacting laws to protect cops and Mr. Trump wants to put more cops in urban communities. Here’s what that means, an increased possibility that more American citizens will lose their lives to rouge cops.
White Nationalist Officials
After the historic election of President Barack Obama many said that American was post-racial yet Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on and called the “N” word while entering the use House of Representatives by tea party protesters. While many celebrated a post-racial America the white nationalist planned to take their country back. Here’s what that means Steve Bannon the former executive chairman of the Alt-Right, white nationalist, news site Breitbart has been appointed special advisor to the president-elect.
Protect Health Care Reform
Mr. Trump threatens to repeal and replace Healthcare reform which could block many citizens from accessing quality health care. He’s announced that Georgia Congressman Tom Price, an outspoken critic of Obamacare, is his nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. Here’s what that means, cab drivers, low-income single mothers, inner city youth may not have access to life-saving health care.
To Protect the Dream and Legacy
When we fail to join together with a collective voice our country runs the risk of reverting back to a time before Dr. Kings famous I Have a Dream Speech. When we fail to raise our collective voices, eight years of progress under President Obama can be reversed.
Why march, why now? I’m marching now because later many never come, because our progress is being turned back and we are allowing it. Now is the time to join our voices. Now is the time to join forces and demand investment in blighted inner city communities. Now is the time to demand that the progress of the 1965 voting rights act be reinstated. Now is the time to demand national police reform. Now is the time to demand that states stop funding private prisons. Now is the time to demand the protection of access to quality health care for all. Now is the time to demand the denouncement of openly racist and sexist government officials. We march because we cannot sit this one out. Why march, why now because later may never come.