The National Association of Colored People (NAACP) bus that left the State Office Building in Harlem and is now en route to the nation's capital for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington got a bit of a late start, but the passengers were nonetheless excited to make the four-hour trip.
The schedule had been set for a 4:00 a.m. departure, but, in order to ensure that the bus left New York City at the same time as the NAACP bus stationed in Brooklyn, there was a delay of approximately 45 minutes.
Contrary to expectation, the bus, which is equipped with enough seats to hold roughly 60 people, was not filled to capacity; not including the small handful of NAACP representatives, about 33 people came on board headed to Washington, D.C.
Minutes before the departure, mayor candidate Bill Thompson boarded the bus to briefly address the riders before they left.
"Are you ready to make history?" he asked.
Hours later the bus arrived in Washington D.C. and bus riders walked towards the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke fifty years ago.
Thousands upon thousands are baking in the heat on the Mall. Several people took the stage at the Lincoln Memorial including the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous, Martin Luther King III and Sybrina Fulton the mother to Trayvon Martin. Speakers discussed to a crowd of thousands about the need for changes in America to make sure everyone gets their fair share.
Martin Luther King III spoke, quoting his daddy and inspiring the masses. Rev Al Sharpton, another keynote speaker, reminded folk what sacrifices were taken, and what blood was shed to enable us to be here today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington. He urged citizens, residents, lay people and elected officials alike to help protect voting rights, demand jobs with a living wage, challenge the proliferation of gun violence and keep fighting for civil and human rights. Right here.
The warm weather did not deter attendees from coming out and letting their voices be heard either. After a prayer led by Bernice King, the crowd gathered to march through the Nation's capital singing songs and yelling chants. Signs ranged from advocacy for voting law changes to eliminating stop-and-frisk. People from all walks of life representing various spectrums of the Black experience were well represented. Various organization including the NAACP, National Action Network and the Urban League had thousands of members at the event. Also students from HBCUs and Black fraternities and sororities were also represented.
As speeches continued at the Lincoln Memorial, several organizations took to Independence Avenue, shouting for demands that would allow for true independence.
Hundreds of fraternity brothers from Phi Beta Sigma led the crowd towards the Lincoln Memorial with signs that laid out exactly what they were marching for: jobs, justice, peace, and freedom.
Behind them was the Virginia Beach chapter of the NAACP, who was there to support the efforts of those who marched 50 years ago.
"We are glad to be here," chapter president Carl Wright said. "We will continue to stay out here in the March and participate."
Wright said this his organization was making their way over to the Reflection Pool to hear the speeches.
Another attendee was Constance Graham, the cousin of Ramarley Graham.
Eighteen-year-old Ramarley Graham was murdered in 2010, when NYPD officer Richard Haste suspected that Graham was carrying a gun and ran from the officer. Two indictments for Haste have been thrown out: one in May due to alleged mistake by the Bronx District Attorney Office, and the other in August when a grand jury decided not to re-indict Haste.
For Constance Graham, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington presented the perfect opportunity to bring the case of her cousin's death to the forefront.
With more than 15 other people, Constance Graham remained determined to use the crowds gathered for the March on Washington to gather five thousand signatures to call for the case to be sent to the federal government.
"Richard Haste just has to go jail. He has to pay for killing Ramarley," Graham said.
Graham and her organizers stood in front of the World War II memorial, letting everyone who passed by know why the late Graham deserves justice.
"We are here to hopefully get recognized and bring more light to what's happening in the Bronx and what happened to Ramarley," Graham said.
Graham said the organization, Ramarley's Call, has already collected hundreds of signatures while in Washington D.C.