By Paul Holston
After marching over 1,000 miles from Selma, Ala. to concluding in Washington, D.C., the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its broad coalition of partners finished the “America’s Journey For Justice” march Tuesday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“To those who taken a step, walked a mile, 10 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles, 500 miles, 1000 miles…for those of you who walked on “America’s Journey For Justice,” put your hands together and applaud all that God has done through you, with you and for our country,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, addressing the crowd of the historical accomplishment.
As a call to justice under the uniting theme “Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter,” Brooks led the march along with various organizations. The march was created to bring forth a national policy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage and equitable public education, according to the NAACP.
“If we can have a Voting Rights of 1965, than we can march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C. in 2015 and have a Voting Rights [Act] that works in 2015,” said Brooks. “We can’t wait, we shouldn’t wait and we don’t deserve to wait.”
Among the thousands of marchers, in attendance were prominent government officials, to include democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Norton and N.C. Congressman and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) G. K. Butterfield.
“While we have come a long way in 50 years, it remains clear that our work still remains. It is important today as it was in 1965 that we commit ourselves to ensuring equity, equality, employment and education,” said Butterfield as he addressed the crowd.
“We march today, we march just as our predecessors marched 50 years ago as an acclamation of our hope and a firm belief that our efforts will bring about change…. Don’t Sit Down!”
Many members from various chapters across the nation were in attendance of the final leg of the march. Khyla Craine, assistant general council for the NAACP National Office, expressed excitement with an uplifting spirit throughout the final moments of the 47-day journey.
“I think that it [the march] is fantastic…it’s a reaffirmation of what the NAACP has stood for for the past 106 years about [what] we are really concerned about: our votes, our lives and our schools,” said Craine, who has been a member of the NAACP for 14 years.
Other college students also came all the way from their own, respective states to show support for the march. Kamry Stanford, a junior political science major from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, came to D.C. for the common causes in terms of voting rights, Historical Black College and Universities (HBCU) funding, healthcare and police brutality.
“It’s all a common cause that we all need to fight for together because we are a democracy,” said Stanford, who is also a HBCU student action alliance member of the non-profit, nonpartisan organization, Common Cause.
Imani Harmon, president of the Howard University NAACP chapter, expressed solidarity of the march and said she has initiatives to follow through for the chapter at Howard University.
“The ‘America’s Journey For Justice’ march was as way to let everyone know that the NAACP is still relevant,” said Harmon, a senior political science major. “Next week [Sept. 22], we [Howard NAACP chapter] will be assisting in National Voter Registration Day to get people to register to vote as well as assisting in giving legislative ideas to improve the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
To read more about the NAACP’s work and its five “Game Changer” issue areas, which were involved in the march, please visit http://www.naacp.org/pages/game-changers.
[Story was Published in Howard University’s “The Hilltop” Student Newspaper 17Sept2015]