By Doshon Farad
Washington, D.C.- The inauguration of President-Elect Donald J.Trump is less than a week away and there are growing tensions revolving around the legitimacy of his November 8th victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. National Action Network (NAN) founder and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton held a march and rally on Saturday opposing the often brazen billionaire’s ascension to the highest office in the land.
The title of the event “We Shall Not Be Moved”, borrowed from an old Freedom song was sung and shouted throughout the day.
Since election night, Trump’s win has ignited nationwide protests. The most popular slogan shouted by protesters is “Not my president!” This, of course, is primarily due to Mr. Trump’s controversial statements during and after the campaign regarding race, women, immigrants and Muslims.
Another schism that Sharpton and others are having with Trump is with some of his recent cabinet picks that include Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney-General, who has been slammed by critics over past allegations of racism.
On a chilly and rainy Saturday Rev. Sharpton led a crowd of a few thousand people (considerably less than the usual tens of thousands he’s used to attracting) in a march through the Mall of the Nation’s Capital, expressing opposition to President-Elect Trump’s recent comments and overt policies that he says he plans to implement once he takes office on January 20.
Hearing marchers shout such familiar slogans as “No Justice. No Peace” and sing songs like “We Shall Not Be Moved”, could easily remind any observer of the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s.
The march began at Washington’s historic National Sylvan Theater and ended in an open field where the rally portion was held. This area was purposely chosen because of its location right across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Rev. Sharpton had mentioned weeks prior that the march and rally were being held in honor of King as this was the holiday weekend observing the slain icon’s birthday.
During the rally, assembled on the stage was a diverse list of participants consisting of activists, organization leaders, politicians, and scholars.
Despite the cold and the rain coming down, the crowd eagerly listened to each speaker warn Trump that they were ready to counter any unjust policy that he decides to put forth as president.
Rev. Shane Harris who is the head of the San Diego chapter of NAN made it very clear. “We didn’t come to protest Trump. We came to let them know that issues of voting rights. Issues of healthcare inequality and income inequality. Issues of police brutality are front and center.”
While welcoming the rally attendees to her town, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser made a passionate plea. “Over the last several months we have all been reminded of the values we have to fight for. We have all been reminded of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and what he stood for.”
Bowser then emphasized how King “told us that we had to look beyond ourselves. Look beyond our own generation and make sure this was an America that was worthy of us all.” “I am reminded in my own hometown that we have to fight on a local level, the state level, and the Federal level,” she said.
Youth involvement was certainly focused on. NAN’s National Youth Director Spelman College student Mary P. Hector added her young energetic voice to the mix. “Dr. King had a dream that we could all stand together in unity and work together. But recently all I’ve seen in the media is divisiveness. In order for us to move forward, there needs to be unity.”
She continued, “There’s a war on women in this country. There’s a war on Black and brown bodies in this country. There’s a war on justice in this country. And so today we stand here in Washington, D.C. to tell Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and everybody else in his administration that we will not be moved.”
Rev. Sharpton blasted members of both parties in Congress for what he felt was their lack of “backbone.” “We didn’t send you down here to be weak-kneed and get in the room and try to make friends. We sent you down here to stand up for senior citizens and students who can’t pay back their loans and for victims of police abuse. If you can’t do the job then we’ll come here and bring you back home. We are not going to compromise on those four things.”
In response to the confirmation of members of the upcoming Trump Administration (Sen. Jeff Session in particular) Sharpton stated, “As we see the votes on confirmations. I’m taking a list today of you that are ready. We are going to go to senators’ offices right before the votes concerning Mr. Sessions. We need to make some house calls. We need to stay a little while. And we need to stay in their offices while they’re on the floor voting because Dr. King died fighting for these rights. That’s why we came to the King Memorial.”
Rev. Sharpton also mentioned the late Coretta Scott King sending a letter to Congress in 1986 during confirmation hearings for Sessions when Pres. Reagan appointed him to a Federal judgeship. In it, Mrs. King urged the then Democratically ran Congress not to approve his appointment over allegations of racism.
Towards the end of the rally, Georgetown University professor and MSNBC contributor, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson addressed the crowd. “We must dig deep; we must remember that we are all in this together — gay and straight and lesbian and transgender and bis*xual, Christian and Muslim, black and white,” he said emphasizing that working class Americans are racially diverse.
“What we must tell our white brothers and sisters is, is that you have to learn from us as well,” Dyson said as the rally ended. “Don’t be hoodwinked and snookered by investing in white supremacy and the unconscious reflex of bigotry. You got to push beyond that to understand that we are all in this together”, he said.
The march was endorsed the by NAACP, National Urban League, and other civic groups. NAACP President Dr. Cornel Brooks and National Urban League President Marc Morial were also in attendance.