ACLU of Florida’s Field Coordinator Nikki Fisher is attending the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. She will be blogging her experiences for ACLUFL.org
This past weekend, I traveled to Washington DC to commemorate the 50th Anniversary on the March on Washington. Friends and colleagues have been asking me how I would describe the trip. The best explanation: I have been on cloud nine since Saturday. The energy, inspiration, and enthusiasm of the crowd were indescribable. The diversity of messages, of people, of generations, and sex, race, religion and everything else all involved in thefight for justice in the United States was inspiring. Seeing the continued struggle of all Americans coming together on Washington is something I will never forget.
The messages for reform were diverse. I saw signs, calls, and speeches for Congress to reform the Voting Rights Act. After the Supreme Court’s decision in the ACLU case Shelby v. Holder, every state covered by the VRA is scrambling to find and uphold various sections. The ACLU of Florida remains increasingly worried about that decision’s impact in our state, as five Florida counties that were protected under the VRA are now without that law’s protection against voter discrimination. The hyper-political legislature is sure to try and pass restrictive voting laws, like what we saw in 2011 with HB1355, unless Congress intervenes to undo the damage the Supreme Court’s decision caused. The worried marchers in DC were from all across the United States helping to voice their encouragement to Congress to protect voting rights of all minorities.
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, gave an inspiring speech on Saturday. Ms. Fulton said: “Trayvon Martin was my son, but he’s not just my son, he’s all of our son, and we have to fight for our children.” Her speech echoed in the hearts, not just of Floridians, but of all Americans who seek a more perfect world for their children and their children. I was reminded of the death of the 17-year-old artist in Miami Beach, Israel Hernandez-Llach. The Parents of Israel and the Parents of Trayvon deserve answers for those injustices and we must continue to address them.
I saw LGBT t-shirts, signs, and leaders speaking about equality. I remember the legacy of Bayard Rustin, one of the men behind the original March on Washington. Mr. Rustin will posthumously be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He practiced nonviolence strategies and founded, along with Martin Luther King Jr., founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During the original march, 50 years ago, his sexuality became a public discussion around the march. It was inspiring to see how far we’ve come from the original march. This year, with the end of DOMA, we have so much to celebrate! Although this a monumental year, we must continue to fight for full equality.
No matter what messages you brought to this commemorative event, it was impossible not to believe that a better America isn’t too far off. With the continued hard work of all Americans, we can reach for a better America.