Clergy of a range of faiths are gathering in the nation’s capital for a demonstration for racial justice on the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington.
The “One Thousand Ministers March for Justice,” expected to proceed Monday from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the Justice Department, originally was planned to protest increased hate crimes, mass incarceration and discrimination and to call on the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to address those issues.
But the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., where neo-Nazi, white supremacist and white nationalist protesters clashed with anti-racism activists, prompted increased interest in the gathering, said the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network spearheaded the march.
“Our hope is that when you looked at those Nazis carrying torches talking about ‘You will not replace us,’ we can contrast that with rabbis linking arms with Baptist ministers and Muslims marching in the spirit of Dr. King,” he told RNS before the march. “They went to Robert E. Lee’s monument. We’re going to King’s monument and marching to the Justice Department.”
Prior to the event, groups ranging from the Franciscan Action Network, a Washington-based Catholic organization focused on poverty and human rights, to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism encouraged their members to join the march.
NAN, a predominantly black, Christian organization, also was an organizer of a 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington that was held in 2013 and drew throngs to the National Mall to remember the event that featured King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Monday’s march originally focused on clergy but some groups encouraged all people of faith to attend.