WASHINGTON — Nebraskans and Iowans joined tens of thousands who gathered Saturday on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
A group of Omaha NAACP leaders flew out for the occasion, with several bringing their children along in order to share a piece of history with the next generation.
The Omahans headed to the National Mall early Saturday and lined up along the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial to listen to the speeches commemorating the 1963 march.
The sun and the crowds can take a toll, however, and the group opted to leave and conduct its own procession to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
“I can feel the tears forming,” Arnitria Smith said as the memorial came into view.
The group carried its NAACP Omaha branch banner, as well as signs calling for the protection of voting rights and an end to racial profiling. Those were popular messages from the stage and among the crowd. So were calls for economic development and jobs.
But there were many other issues highlighted by those who turned out — immigration reform, better protections for those with disabilities, gay marriage, economic justice and jobs.
A group of letter carriers held signs that read, “Save the dream, Save the Post Office.”
Vickie Young, NAACP Omaha branch president, praised the diversity of causes on display, saying they all go back to the central goal of advancing civil rights and social justice.
“We know we're all fighting for the same thing,” Young said.
After reaching the memorial, the Omahans posed for photos in front of the image of King emerging from granite.
They also posed by the inscription of one of the slain leader's quotes:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”