The AFT and the National Action Network marked the 53rd anniversary of the historic March on Washington by rallying and marching on Aug. 27 with 40 leading civil rights, labor and gun violence prevention groups in the nation's capital. Held in front of the National Rifle Association's lobbying office just weeks before the 2016 vote, the event was a chance to send a unified message to candidates at all levels: The nation will no longer tolerate the easy availability of firearms that turn intolerance and hate lethal.
"We can't accept that mass shootings and indiscriminate killing are the new normal," AFT President Randi Weingarten told the crowd of activists who gathered in Southeast Washington and marched to the NRA office.
Also addressing the crowd, which included a large contingent of AFT activists, was a full roster of powerful speakers. Among them was Cynthia Dawkins, a District resident whose youngest son, 24-year-old Timothy Delonte Dawkins, was killed in the crossfire of a Southeast neighborhood shooting three years ago. The rally and Dawkins' story took on added poignancy, coming on the day that news outlets reported how Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, had been killed in crossfire while pushing her baby in a stroller in Chicago.
Speakers and demonstrators at the event called out the Washington gun lobby that is stalling meaningful gun reform legislation in Congress. The work will continue in the lead-up to Election Day, with rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins and other direct action to promote gun safety in cities around the nation. For details about upcoming events, follow #DisarmHate on Twitter.
Other groups joining in the Aug. 27 action included the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Gays Against Guns, a new group in the LGBT community created in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in order to create greater awareness about gun violence. The Washington march was featured prominently in several media outlets.
[Leilah Mooney Joseph, Mike Rose/Michael Campbell photo]