Photo: Washington monument
Hispanics joined forces with African-Americans on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington during which, among other issues, they again pressured Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform.
The speakers, several of them Hispanic, together with the people attending the event, acknowledged the need to find a solution for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, and did not hesitate to draw parallels between the situation of immigrants today and the plight of blacks in the 1960s.
“This is not the time for self-congratulatory celebration….The fight must continue,” said Martin Luther King III, son of the famous African-American activist who 50 years ago made the historic “I have a dream” speech, and added that among other goals still waiting for America to achieve is an immigration reform to end the harassment suffered by “our brothers and sisters” and to provide them with a path to citizenship.
Though African-Americans were the overwhelming majority in a march that attracted tens of thousands of people to the heart of Washington, whites and Hispanics also attended an event that, in the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, had a much more integrated character than the one in 1963.
“Those who marched on Washington in 1963 had taken a long and difficult road. As we gather today, 50 years later, their march is now our march, and it must go on,” Holder said.
The attorney general said that in today’s America, the march for justice has broadened to include women, Latinos, Asian-Americans, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and others.
Together with T-Shirts commemorating slain African-American teenager Trayvon Martin and posters slamming a recent Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a key element of the law protecting minorities’ right to vote, calls for immigration reform had a notable presence in the demonstration.
For her part, Latino activist Itzel Guillen, who flew in from San San Diego expressly for the occasion, told Efe that “the Hispanic community today faces challenges very like those African-Americans had to deal with 50 years ago. Today, for example, we are fighting for immigration reform, for our people, so that they can be citizens with equal rights and can vote.”
The Hispanic community thus responded to the call made in the past few days by several Latino politicians and leaders like Congressman Luis Gutierrez and the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, who consider the uniting of minorities “basic” to achieving their shared civil-rights goals.