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The only thing that could get in the way of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Wednesday was the media.
Led by veteran marchers of 1963, hundreds of activists, schoolchildren, and other participants gathered on the 600 block of New Jersey Avenue NW to re-create the events of Aug. 28, 1963. En route to join thousands and thousands of others at the Lincoln Memorial, though, the marchers first had to get past the camera crews. Organizers repeatedly stopped the crowd in the first few minutes to try and clear a line of journalists with cameras and microphones walking backward in front of the procession.
“We had to keep the peace,” said Alice Holt of Suitland, who volunteered to be a marshal of the event. Eventually the marchers began pausing for more organized photo ops. “They didn’t know,” Holt said of the photographers and reporters. “That’s what we were there for, to instruct them on how to do their job of recording history.”
But marchers in the back hardly noticed, braving the heat and the rain during the almost two-mile walk. Rico Marlow of the District said he came to call for equality, specifically for D.C. residents. Marlow carried a sign that read “DC Self-Rule Now.” “We have to be respected,” Marlow said. “We don’t have a vote in Congress. Congress is taking over D.C.’s budget.”
Marchers carried signs representing different causes, from the killing of Trayvon Martin to the Voting Rights Act. Two women carried poster boards declaring all Texans were not racist. Another sign read: “Party of Lincoln, what are you thinkin’?” (The “th” was crossed out and a “dr” was drawn next to it.)
Colin Smith, a Virginia Southern University student from Silver Spring, had a popular poster that said “Mormons for Love” with a picture of the Human Rights Campaign logo. Fans of the sign pulled Smith aside to take pictures. Smith, a Mormon, said he advocates religious freedom: “I am from a religion that has not been that kind to the LGBT movement, and that makes me sad.”
Though he didn’t carry a sign, Dupont Circle resident Sam Jennings wore a shirt supporting the Uppity Negro campaign started by Andrea Carter, a Tryst waitress who was fired for talking back to customers in 2004. Carter started the campaign to urge blacks to be fearless and speak out. “This march is all about Uppity Negroes,” Jennings said.
Photos by Ally Mutnick