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Thousands Rally In D.C. For 20th Anniversary Of Million Man March

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Neal Blair, of Augusta, Ga., stands on the lawn of the Capitol building during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, on Saturday.
Evan Vucci, AP
Neal Blair, of Augusta, Ga., stands on the lawn of the Capitol building during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, on Saturday.

Thousands of demonstrators marched on the National Mall on Saturday in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

The theme of the march this time around was "Justice or Else," and it featured a diverse line-up of speakers who touched on a wide array of issues — from immigration to the string of black men who have been killed by police.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who called the original Million Man March, delivered a long and impassioned speech, saying that African-Americans are "still singing, 'We Shall Overcome.'"

"If I'm a seed — and I'm 50 years old and I'm still a seed — [if I] have never been planted in the right environment to develop myself then I don't have freedom," Farrakhan said.

The Washington Post reports that the crowd today was much smaller than the original march, but the spirit of the original march — of struggle and a renewal of spirit — was present.

The Post adds:

"The speakers also pointedly tied the struggle of the black community to modern-day incidents. Tamika Mallory, a national organizer of the rally, recited a litany of young black men who have been killed by police in recent years, including Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of Staten Island.

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"'Twenty years ago, the death of Tamir Rice would have fallen on deaf ears and left for the police to write a false report, not broadcast for the world to know,' Mallory told the crowd.

"'Michael Brown's body would have only traumatized the community, rather than wake up the people. America, we can't breathe,' Mallory said, echoing the phrase that Garner uttered while being held in a chokehold by police in July 2014 and that has been appropriated by the civil rights movement."

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