March on Washington: Voices in the crowd from Beaver County

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Michael Moye, children & mother, Jackie Moye  at the March   

by Joby Brown
For New Pittsburgh Courier
At the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Saturday,  Aug. 24, Martin Luther King III, Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman John Lewis, Myrlie Evers Williams and nine year old Chicago student, Asean Johnson were keynote speakers commemorating the historic 1963 March.

Remarkably, the same messages, insight and passion they shared was also brought home by many in the crowd who attended.  Five buses left Beaver County at 3 a.m. to join the throng of nearly 200,000 from all over the United States, in celebration of the great day in history when the Late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  gave his famous “I Have a Dream: speech.

No official count of the multitude that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial all the way down the National Mall was given, but the Parks Department reported that 178,000 used the D.C. Metro System on Saturday. In addition to those on the Mall, thousands of others watched marches on Constitution Avenue, beside the Washington Monument, took pictures at the Martin Luther King Memorial.

Michael Moye, a U.S.Postal Service clerk from Beaver Falls said, “this is a once in a lifetime experience, this is something that we’ll never forget. I thought it was good to instill this in my children, and for their grandparent to be here also, to be in step with history in the making.  I wasn’t around for the first March, but I want to be here for the second (next anniversary), and I hope my kids will be here for the third. I think the trip down was nice, the union (SEIU), the church (an unnamed church, the Beaver Valley NAACP and the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council sponsored the five busses, free to the public, at a cost of more than $12,000) did a great job, and in getting all the people together, and taking care of us while we are here.  

“We all need jobs, throughout America, what happened to Trayvon Martin wasn’t right, but it will all turn around, everything happens for a purpose. I feel that everyone should have the rights that Dr. King marched for 50 years ago. And as you see here, you have multiple cultures, races, religions, everything in one place.”   

“With voter ID, they’re just trying to stop the vote, but I think you should have proper ID to own a gun,”said Michael’s mother, Jackie Moye. “It’s wonderful, I’m glad the children could get in on it while they are small, ‘cause I never could, so it’s nice for them.”

Edward Pope and his daughter, Leslie Pope of Gaithersburg, Md attended the 20th Anniversary of the March in 1983. Edward’s wife was at the original March, he missed it because he was in the Army in Oklahoma, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. She said, “D.C.’s main issues are voting rights, their vote doesn’t count, which is why they have their own individual march.

“You have the federal government in D.C., but the residents don’t even have a vote in Congress. That’s their main issue in a city that has more people than the state of Wyoming.”  Pastor Imanuel Moreland of New Holy Temple Church Of God In Christ. in Aliquippa reflections on the March were, “we are moving on another level.  We are trying to recreate things, trying to generate young people. The voter ID laws, that’s a bunch of junk, since Obama got in, they make a way to get in who they want in.  It’s a way to take that from us, stop people from voting who have been voting for years. We need to get young people voting, they only vote for the president, but they don’t vote in the primaries, they don’t vote in the mid terms, the county, the state (elections), they don’t vote, but the presidential elections they got out and rallied.”   

Rikkia Ramsey, a graduate of Rochester High School and North Carolina A & T University, who is an aide for North Carolina Senator, Kay Hagan said, “I’m glad to see so many young people here, my father told me that it is up to the youth to carry on. The March is a sign of great diversity. You have so many causes represented, the Black community, the LGBT community, Hispanic, people from every faction is represented.”  

She talked about the many issues that are facing our nation today, voting rights and voter suppression, gun laws, the need for jobs and the need for people of all demographic groups to get along.  

Everywhere you looked, you saw people of every hue, every language, every group. The solemn takeaway is that 50 years after Dr. King’s speech, we have voter suppression, stand your ground laws, gun lobbies and rampant unemployment, dismantling of the nation’s education system, ignored infrastructure, threats to defund affordable health care and hate crimes.  All the people said it’s time for us to live the dream.     

Derrik Oates, a government employee who grew up in Thailand, Germany and North Carolina, and now lives in Silver Spring, Md, expounded on voter rights and suppression. 

“The key thing is that most people are thinking short term, and that you don’t have a chance to think long term, ‘cause you’re so caught up, just trying to survive, just trying to eat.  
And when you keep people desperate, you keep them from thinking about the bigger picture and the bigger things that matter. So what we need to do is start realizing that some of these bigger voting issues, they matter:  local districts, local/city councils, they matter, all that stuff is important and we need to stay involved. The one thing that the President is continually trying to say is that we live in a participatory democracy, and in order for it to work, everyone has to participate. 

“The biggest thing about the March is that it keeps the narrative in front of people’s minds, which is very important. Secondly, it’s good to show the people that you’re not alone in what you’re thinking, because sometimes when we see some of these crazy laws that come in here, like, who in the world is pushing this stuff? 

“The March proves that there are still some sane people out here, and there is safety in numbers. This helps convert symbolism into actual action, giving people a direction of where to go, who to communicate with to create something tangible. It creates a show of non-violent force, advocate for a cause without being perceived as the enemy.”

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