Earl Jones was already here 57 years ago to the day. This Washingtonian took part in the first “March on Washington” in 1963, a gathering that is famous for the words pronounced by Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial: “I have a dream”. “A lot has changed since then: the law on the right to vote had not been adopted and segregation in public places still existed,” he explains.
But there is still progress to be made. On Friday, tens of thousands of people gathered in one place to protest against racial discrimination, in particular against police violence against blacks. The organizers came up with the idea of this event called "Take your knees off our necks!" After the death of African-American George Floyd in late May.
Earl Jones said he was "really discouraged" after seeing the video this week of Jacob Blake, paralyzed after being shot in the back by a police officer in Wisconsin. "How long do we have to put up with this?" The police must be reformed, ”he demands. “My only fear is that when there are riots, it takes years to recover. We must therefore remain disciplined when we demonstrate. "
Speakers in fact called to remain "peaceful", so as not to agree with the rhetoric deemed inflammatory by Donald Trump. “In the fight against injustice, non-violence does not mean passive acceptance. It means peaceful resistance, ”said Martin Luther King III, the son of the murdered pastor. Jacob Blake's sister, who made the trip to the capital, addressed “black America”: “I hold you responsible. You have to get up. You have to fight. Not with violence and chaos but with self-esteem. "
In the crowd, Kamaria Taylor-McCune, from a long line of activists, took part in many marches before this one. “I was in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed, in Washington when Trayvon Martin was killed,” she says. " It's discouraging. Even today, 401 years later ( Editor's note after the arrival of the first slaves in the United States ), we are still treated as if we were not citizens of this country that we had yet built, and for free. "
Kamaria Taylor-McCune is pessimistic: “Even today, 401 years later (after the arrival of the first slaves in America), we are still treated as if we were not citizens of this country that we nevertheless have. built, and for free. »#MarchOnWashington pic.twitter.com/ZFjG53cgV2- Yona Helaoua (@YonaHelaoua) August 28, 2020
She herself was arrested by the police a few years ago. The reason ? She was sharing her date of birth with a wanted murder suspect. “We didn't have the same name, not the same height, not the same weight. Just the same age. It took eight hours for my fingerprint results to arrive before the police realized I was not a threat. I did whatever it took, got an education, and still look like someone who deserves to be treated like a criminal. "
"This police system is inherited from slavery"
Kamaria Taylor-McCune is pessimistic: “This police system is inherited from slavery. When you have a system that is inherently racist, as long as you don't overthrow the system, nothing will change. This is why we are asking to review the budget of the police, an institution created to regulate the bodies of blacks. As long as that doesn't change, the same dramas will be repeated, it's just going to be another day, another name and another hashtag. "
Others have faith in the future. From the height of her 12 years, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King communicated her energy to the public. She called on her generation to end systemic racism, police violence, gun violence, the climate crisis and poverty: "We will make my grandfather's dreams come true," she pledged in the same place as him, 57 years later.