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Sunday, April 20, 2014 8:48 PM

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50th anniversary of March on Washington inspires call to action


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Photo by Tauren Dyson. Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, stands among the crowd Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, stands among the crowd Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Published on: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Iconic speeches speak for themselves, which is the case with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vaunted “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. 

Fifty years ago, King’s speech rippled the reflecting pools and resonated throughout the nation. But on Saturday, more than a month after the man who shot Trayvon Martin was found not guilty, more than 100,000 people came to Washington, D.C., for a reboot of King’s message. And, some came to add their own message of personal responsibility.

“We live in the best country in the world, but we still have, with a black president, issues that are glaring,” said Walter Kirkland, president of 100 Black Men, a mentoring organization for Prince George’s County boys. “If we mentor our kids at an early effective age, you won’t have a Trayvon Martin situation, you won’t have the baggy pants, you won’t have the issues with young people getting in trouble, especially the black youth.”

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is seen in the crowd Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is seen in the crowd Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Kirkland, 50, stood at one end holding banner that read, “What they see, is what they will be,” with his 17-year-old son holding the other end.

Dozens of speakers voiced messages of hope and faith, and also a call to action for people to be more proactive in making the United States a better place to live.

“If you are growing up in this country ... you have an obligation,” said Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker.

That obligation, Booker said, is to “not just to sit there and hope for change, and pray for change, or preach about change, you’ve got to show that same type of sacrifice.”

With sometimes daily stories of tragic shootings and rampant violence, citizens can’t simply lean on messages of individual responsibility. Angela Alsobrooks, state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, said she wants to instill confidence in county residents by stressing the importance of individual rights.

“I don’t think that there is any more important right than living in a safe environment, living in a safe county,” Alsobrooks said. “As a part of the public safety and law enforcement community, to ensure that our elders, so many of whom have given their lives and given their labors to make sure that we have an opportunity to serve, the very least we can do is make sure that they live in places that are safe.”

About 1,000 feet from where Alsobrooks stood and spoke about making communities safer, Tracey Martin and Sybrina Fulton stood near a lectern, visibly emotional and understandably still shaken by the loss of their son, Trayvon Martin.

“The reality is, we are not a nation that has affirmed its highest ideals; we’re just not Booker said. “There’s still savage inequality in this country … shackling the potential of what America can be, should be and must be.”

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