Fifty-seven years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington, the families of Black Americans shot or killed by police officers will speak on the same site, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and Jacob Blake will join Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III on Friday at the Commitment March: Get Your Knee off Our Necks.
The march, organized by the National Action Network, calls for racial justice and police reform. Sharpton first announced plans for the march during a memorial service for George Floyd, the 46-year-old father who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.
"George Floyd's story has been the story of black folks because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck," Sharpton said at the service in June. "It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say, 'Get your knee off our necks!'"Black Lives Matter marches have proliferated across the country. Protesters continue to call for justice for the officers charged in Floyd's death, and those involved in other controversial cases including the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers in her own home in Louisville, and Elijah McClain, who died after a police chokehold in Aurora, Colorado, last summer.
Protests erupted again this week following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after police shot him several times in the back as he opened the door of his parked car. Attorneys for his family say he is now paralyzed.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris recorded brief remarks for the march that are expected to play during the event. Harris, who tweeted her address Thursday night says that if civil rights activists from the 60's were here today, they "would share in our anger and frustration as we continue to see Black men and women slain in our streets and left behind by an economy and justice system that have too often denied Black folks our dignity and rights."
"They would share our anger and pain, but no doubt they would turn it into fuel," Harris continues. "They would be lacing up their shoes, locking arms and continuing right alongside us to continue in this ongoing fight for justice."
The families are scheduled to speak at the Lincoln Memorial, then walk across Independence Avenue to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Sharpton said he anticipates 50,000 people to attend the march. That estimate was once double, but buses organized to bring marchers from around the country are no longer going to be coming from states that are COVID-19 "hot spots," which require quarantine when visiting Washington.
Organizers said thermometer check-in stations will be set up, masks will be distributed and must be worn, and social distancing will be practiced.
Tim Perry contributed to this report.