MIAMI GARDENS – The Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP has issued a call for people to join others for a charter bus trip to Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Plans are being made to charter a bus that can take 55 passengers on the trip, at a cost of $100 per person – reduced from $160. As of Wednesday, around 10 people had signed up and 30 others had made serious inquiries about the trip.
The NAACP also is accepting donations to help defray expenses for chartering the bus, with a deadline of Friday, Aug. 9.
The March on Washington took place on Aug. 8, 1963. The iconic event was the site for Martin Luther King Jr.’s transgenerational I Have a Dream speech and is still the largest protest for human rights in United States history. With more than 200,000 people attending, blacks, whites and other minority groups rallied, marched and demonstrated in unity for jobs, freedom and justice.
Just like half-a-century ago, activists, civil rights groups and religious organizations are trying today to recreate the demonstration that took place at the Washington Monument.
“At the NAACP Miami-Dade branch, we have to have representation up in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the March 50 years later. And to stand up for what’s still going on in the country — stand-your-ground laws, voter fraud and the fact that they are still trying to take away the right to vote from African Americans. There are still some systematic problems and we have to stand up and be heard,” said Treska Rodgers, assistant secretary of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP and transportation coordinator for a trip to Washington.
The NAACP plans to charter a bus to ensure that those who want to participate have the opportunity. Some residents who were in the original march also plan to make the trip. They include Shirley Johnson, who has been fighting for civil rights her entire life. She was one of the original marchers at age 16 and can still recall the moment she heard King’s voice over the loudspeakers.
“As I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, I heard this electrifying voice that said ‘I have a dream.’ And it was so
electrifying that I sat right there on that hill. As I listened to Dr. King cite the dream that he had, I could see a vision of America looking like what I cried for and prayed for,” Johnson said.
Johnson remembers the crowd of people and said to this day she has never seen so many people in one place.
The NAACP is hoping that the anniversary marchers will total 250,000. It says there is need to get that amount of groundswell of participation because there is still a fight going on and the African-American community cannot afford to be silent.
“When I left there in ’63, Dr. King’s mission became my mission. And from that day to this one, that’s what I have lived for, have fought for and have given my lifetime to see. I have to go back. I have to go back because I’m not finished,” Johnson said.
The NAACP is accepting donations to defray the cost of the bus and seats. The bus will leave at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, from New Way Fellowship Baptist Church, 16800 N.W. 22nd Ave., in North Miami-Dade and return immediately following the march.
The deadline to reserve a seat is this Friday, Aug. 9. For more information or to reserve and pay for seats on the bus, call 305-934-0244.