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Committed to the March

Excerpts From Reverend Al Sharpton’s Address

57 years ago in 1963, there was a struggle in Birmingham, Alabama. There was the assassination of Medgar Evers, the head of the Mississippi NAACP. In the middle of struggle and murder, they came to Washington to demand that the Federal government give them a civil rights act and voting rights. They marched that day saying that as we struggle, we need legislation. And they stayed on that movement until they got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Because they came in ’63, we were able to come back in 2020, riding in whatever we wanted to ride, staying in whatever hotels was available. They opened the door for us, but there are still some doors we must open and some people we’ve got to straighten out.

On the George Floyd Policing and Justice Act
Why are we in Washington? We have passed, in the House of Representatives, the George Floyd Policing and Justice Act, now we need to pass that act in the Senate. We need the US Senate to meet on the George Floyd Policing and Justice Act or we’re going to meet you Senators at the polls on November 3rd. Whether we’ve got to mail in, walk in, ride in, crawl in, we want our bill passed.

On the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill
John Lewis, Reverend Hosea Williams and Amelia Boynton were beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, tear gassed. That led to the Selma-Montgomery March that got us the right to vote. And that right lasted until 2013 when they took and gutted out the middle of that bill, taking away the map. Well, we come to Washington saying how do you memorialize John Lewis and allow the bill that he stood for to die? We want the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill for the Congress.Demonstration without l egislation will not lead to change.

On Why it is Time for a New Conversation
They keep telling me about how it’s a shame that Black parents have to have “the conversation” with our children. Well, it’s time we have a conversation with America …about racism, bigotry, hate, about how you would put your knee on our neck while we cry for our lives. We need a new conversation.

On Broken Promises
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He promised us full citizenship if we fought to save the union. He promised us 40 acres and a mule. We never got the full citizenship. We never got the reparations. We come to Lincoln because you promised, Mr. Lincoln, and the promise has been broken. And we come like Dr. King came 57 years ago to say we are tired of broken promises.

On Bull Trump
Here we are in 2020, we’ve gone from Bull Connor to Bull Trump. We’ve gone from a mean-spirited Sheriff to a mean-spirited President whose lips drink with the words of interposition and nullification. We do not want to be disrespected. How do you speak while this young man, Jacob, lives in a hospital and you won’t call his name? How do you sit while Breonna Taylor is in a grave and you won’t call her name? How do you sit while Eric Garner is in a grave and you won’t call his name? How do you sit while George Floyd is laying in a grave and you won’t call his name?

On Voting
This is the time for us to vote like we never voted before. And don’t just vote for the top of the ticket, vote all the way down… from the top to the bottom. Vote all the way to the dog catcher. We want to get rid of anybody that’s in our way because our parents died to give us the right to vote. You can mess with the mail, but it ain’t the sacrifice that Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner gave. Our vote is dipped in (the) blood of those who went to their graves (for the right to vote).

On Black Lives Matter
Three young genius sisters wrote the slogan Black Lives Matter. Why did it resonate? Because … everybody hasn’t mattered the same in America. The reason we had and still have to say, “Black Lives Matter” is because we get less health care like we don’t matter, we go to jail longer for the same crime like we don’t matter, we get poverty, unemployment double the others like we don’t matter, we’re treated with disrespect by policemen that we pay their salaries like we don’t matter. So, whether we tall or short, fat or skinny, light-skinned or dark-skinned, Black lives matter and we won’t stop until it matters to everybody.

On Rev. Dr. King’s Dream Today
Bigotry can’t rob us of our dreams. Because we’ve always had to dream beyond our circumstance. We always had to dream of being what we were not allowed to be. We are the dream keepers, which is why we come today, Black and white, and all races and religious and sexual orientations, to say this dream is still alive.

On Next Steps
I want everybody who went to the website of NationalActionNetwork.net and who wants to help us on Election Day, be poll watchers to protect our vote. Early voting starts in two weeks. We’ve got to have foot soldiers that will protect the vote and that will be out there.

On Rising
And I want you to say to yourself that you could have been so much more. You had ideas and dreams, not only as a race, but as a person, but society had their knee on your neck. We could have developed and been as successful as others, but society had their knee on our neck. But we’re not going to lay and submit no more. We are not going to take it. Some have different tactics, but we all are rising up.

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