An Aug. 28 commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington organized in part by Rev. Al Sharpton set for the 57th anniversary of the historic event is being reconfigured to be sure it is in line with coronavirus protocols in the nation’s capital.
Charter buses will bring people from various cities, much as they did in the original march, but Sharpton told the Associated Press that he would ask those coming from places that are COVID-19 hot spots to attend satellite events.
“We’re following protocol,” Sharpton said to the AP. “The objective is not how many thousands of people will be (in Washington). It’ll still be a good crowd.”
The plan helps the event to comply with restrictions set by Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser. In July, she required those coming to the city from any of the hot spots self-quarantine for 14 days. The city’s list identifies 29 states as hotspots. She had said, despite the planned event, the rules would not be relaxed for it.
“They are aware of all the local guidance that would affect their planning,” she said. “If there are people who are coming from jurisdictions that are on that list, they would need to be quarantined.”
The event has already received a permit from the National Park Service, the AP reported. The application estimates that 100,000 people could attend. NPS officials were talking over coronavirus mitigation plans, but because it takes place on federal ground like the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall, the permit does not require compliance with local restrictions.
Sharpton’s organization, the National Action Network is working with its chapters to hold satellite events in Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas, all of which have seen spikes in their numbers of coronavirus cases.
He announced plans for the event, dubbed “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” in June during a memorial service for George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with murder. He has also called for marches on the offices of their local U.S. senators to demand that they support federal policing reforms.
The NAACP, which is also an organizing partner, will also livestream the event and other content ahead of the march. The organization has launched a website for it as well.
Although masks will be required at the Washington march, but Sharpton says the spirit of the historic 1963 event will still be there and the social justice message Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech will still be the emphasis.
“The objective is to put on one platform, in the shadow of Abe Lincoln, the families of people that … have lost loved ones in unchecked racial bias,” said Sharpton. “On these steps, Dr. King talked about his dream, and the dream is unfulfilled. This is the Exhibit A of that not being fulfilled.”