Local activists among thousands attending March on Washington 2020

Michael Perchick Image
Friday, August 28, 2020
NC activists among thousands attending March on Washington 2020
Many local activists joined in on the march on the nation's capital including Tylik McMillan and Dr. William Barber of the Poor People's Campaign who is set to deliver the keynote address.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVD) -- Thousands of people gathered on Friday for the March on Washington, as speakers touched on several key issues impacting marginalized communities.

"We find ourselves here in the spirit of John Lewis, making good trouble, necessary trouble, because the soul of our democracy is depending on it," said Tylik McMillan, a speaker and activist who recently graduated from North Carolina A&T.

RELATED: Thousands at DC march for policing reforms, commemorating MLK's 'I Have A Dream' address

Friday night, Rev. Dr. William Barber of Goldsboro, who co-chairs the Poor People's Campaign, is set to deliver the keynote address.

"As brutal, and as ugly, and as vicious as police violence is, addressing police violence and being against racist cops is not the totality of dealing with systemic racism," said Barber. "There's some people that will actually be against racist cops, particularly after they see it on camera, but then turn around and go right back to a legislative room and vote for voter suppression. They'll be against the cop killing someone, but vote to deny healthcare which also kills people. They'll be against the cop killings on one (hand) and then turn around and support the denial of minimum wages, which also causes death."

Barber explained the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted inequities.

"The people who are being hurt most in the pandemic are poor and low-wealth Black people, brown people and poor and low-wealth white people. Pandemics expose divisions, they don't create divisions, they expose divisions," said Barber.

Many opted to tune in to the march from home, including Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw, the Pastor at First Baptist Church in Raleigh and the Chairman of the Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee.

"I don't believe people are going to go back home and say well we tried - and just go back to business as usual. There will be change," said Harshaw.

He said he is encouraged by the push for change.

"I think now is the time because of the awareness we have that many people did not have 57 years ago of how America works, the awareness of how prevalent discrimination is and injustice is that a lot of people were not fully aware of then," Harshaw said.

He, along with several speakers, also emphasized the importance of voting and the 2020 election.

"It is critical to be counted at the ballot box. It is critical to honor the past, those that have sacrificed and given their lives. But also it's critical not to vote by emotion, but to vote by facts, and the evidence, and the need for change," said Harshaw.

This marks 57 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream Speech" in front of more than 200,000 people, but Dr. Barber argues there was a larger point that extended past the famous refrain.

"We have to remember that Dr. King's speech that day was not 'I have a dream,' it was 'Normalcy no longer.' Because he was addressing the politics of racism and economic denial," said Barber.

Rev. Barber is set to deliver his address shortly before 10 p.m. Friday evening.