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09/27/2017 | Racial Justice

Activists March 118 Miles to Confront White Supremacy

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

These words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed in our heads every day along the 118-mile trek from Charlottesville to Washington, DC that began on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech and ended at the MLK Memorial. Entitled “The March to Confront White Supremacy,” we came together to demand that white supremacy be addressed both by this administration and in all of the ways that it takes root in our communities.

On August 11 and 12, White Supremacists rallied in Charlottesville against legislation passed by Vice Mayor and Local Progress Member Wes Bellamy, as well as the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee. White nationalists marched through the streets, many of them armed, holding tiki torches and chanting Nazi slogans. One woman, Heather Heyer, lost her life standing up against hatred when a car plowed into a crowd of people who turned out to protest the white supremacist rally.  

“I can’t believe this is happening in 2017”, was a common response. People of color, especially Black people, were not shocked. Resistance has been the state of existence for Black people in this country and resistance was the response to this instance of domestic terrorism. The Center for Popular Democracy joined the Working Families Party, the Women’s March, If Not Now, Color of Change, and Democracy Spring to bring together a multi-racial, multi-faith coalition that stood united in opposition to white supremacy.

White Supremacy as both policy and rhetoric has been a powerful political agent in our country since its founding. But under this President, it has flourished in the public eye. We who believe in freedom cannot rest: now is the time to take bold action again to defeat white supremacy and honor MLK’s legacy. Kumar Rao, CPD Senior Staff Attorney said of his experiences:

Participating in the #Cville2DC march was an emotional and inspiring experience.  During the several days I was at the march, I bonded with and spoke with folks of all backgrounds, faiths, and geographies who felt a calling to come together and to convert outrage against white supremacy into action with moral clarity.”

After arriving in Washington, DC the march turned into a sustained vigil in Farragut Square against white supremacy in what has been dubbed “Impeachment Square.” This vigil will continue throughout the month of September and join the March for Racial Justice on September 30 in Washington, DC and in New York City on October 1. You can get involved by joining the marches and by following the work of the Center for Popular Democracy’s Racial Justice Team.