In one of the largest interfaith, anti-racism gatherings in the country, thousands of clergy members from Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Sikh religions gathered near the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. Aug. 28 to demand social justice and denounce racism following a recent white supremacy and neo-Nazis’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The event, dubbed One Thousand Ministers March for Justice, marks the 54th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network who led the march, said he had called for 1,000 religious leaders to join him but more than 3,000 registered.
“We wanted 1,000 rabbis, sikhs, imams, Christian ministers of all denominations, because we wanted to say this nation is in moral trouble,” he said. “It’s immoral to try to take the vote from people that blacks and Jews and other people suffered and died for. It’s immoral to try and take health care from your mama because you don’t like Obama. It’s immoral to try and give a tax cut to the rich while we need infrastructure and jobs.”
Jewish rabbis, Christian ministers, Catholic nuns, and other religious leaders took turns giving remarks before the group marched to the Justice Department.
Rev. Michael Walrond of First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York urged people to be proactive as this is “not a time to be reactionary, we have to be proactive against racism and injustice.”
“Let me tell white supremacists that America is a multi faith country...a multi racial country. Do you all agree?" Dr. Rajwant Singh asked – to a resounding yes.
“You may not be indifferent to your neighbor,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner told the crowd.
AFGE Stands Against Racism
When the group reached the Justice Department, AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. took the podium and urged everyone to come together, and to not turn away from our responsibilities.
“We are all children of one God, and everything we say and do must follow from that basic truth,” he said. “We will treat one another with love and care. We will fight poverty and injustice. We will protect this earth.”
Several AFGE activists were among the crowd, including AFGE Local 1793 member Andrea Chapman who traveled to Washington from Philadelphia.
“I’m here as a Christian and I’m also a member of AFGE. I’m here to promote social justice and activism,” she said. “I think the people have the power and we need to show up in a diversified way to support social change in our country.”