Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations and supporters were among the tens of thousands of people who gathered at the National Mall for the 60th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Ongoing racial inequality: While the Saturday event commemorated the renowned march and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, leaders also highlighted the ongoing racial inequality in the U.S. The five-hour program included influential speakers who spoke about America’s prevalent civil rights issues, such as systemic racism, hate crimes, police brutality and gun violence. The gathering also included discussions with government officials on issues like voting rights, reproductive rights and Asian American rights.
Several speakers, including Martin Luther King III and his daughter, Yolanda King, emphasized the need to continue the fight for justice.
“If I could speak to my grandfather today, I would say I’m sorry we still have to be here to rededicate ourselves to finishing your work and ultimately realizing your dream,” Yolanda said, according to the Associated Press. “Today, racism is still with us. Poverty is still with us. And now, gun violence has come for places of worship, our schools and our shopping centers.”
AAPI organizations: Staff and supporters from 15 national AAPI organizations, such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), also convened at the anniversary under the theme of “not a commemoration, but a continuation.”
Many organizations referenced AAPIs’ historical involvement in civil rights and multi-ethnic coalition-building. The event showcased solidarity with other marginalized communities and a commitment to anti-racism, recognizing the shared struggle for equity.
“Sixty years ago, thousands of Americans stood on the same soil we do today…we march today because the promises have yet to be fulfilled,” John C. Yang, the president and executive director of AAJC, said during his speech at the march.
“We are honored to take part again and to share our voice and our community’s voice,” the JACL said in a press release. “While JACL was the only Asian American organization to formally join the 1963 march, this year we look forward to being joined by hundreds more of our partner Asian American organizations.”
“Dr. King’s dream lives on”: Attendees hailed from different states and backgrounds, highlighting the nationwide scope of the movement. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will reportedly observe the march’s anniversary on Monday by meeting with organizers of the 1963 gathering and King’s relatives.
“As we reflect on March on Washington sixty years later, let us remember the power of unity and collective action. Dr. King’s dream lives on, and it is up to each generation to carry it forward, continuing the work for a more just and inclusive society for all,” AAJC said in a statement.