Photographs by Simbarashe Cha and Myesha Evon
On Friday, tens of thousands of people gathered from across the country at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, to continue rallying for social justice issues in the United States. The march, organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, was called the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington, and featured speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial followed by a march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Simbarashe Cha, a photographer who spent nearly 10 hours on the National Mall in 90-plus-degree heat to photograph the march for The Atlantic, says the biggest challenge was “not security, or the police, or the reality of racism that is always just around the corner ... It was the heat. It oppressed and it suffocated and it tried its damnedest to put us in a submissive chokehold, and nowhere was it hotter than on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the stone and concrete serving as a heat magnet for anyone who braved the sun out from beneath the trees. And yet, nearly everyone stayed.”
“During these times, it is important for us to choose how we show up in the world,” says Myesha Evon, another photographer who covered the march for The Atlantic. “I wanted to capture the joy, intimacy, diversity, and unity of the movement."
“There was something surreal about seeing the sea of people line up and down the mall, knowing that Lincoln’s statue sat watching all of us, and that once upon a time, a group of Black leaders led by Dr. Martin Luther King stood in this very place and delivered one of the most iconic speeches the world has ever known,” Cha says. “It is one of the most beautiful things I’ll ever get to witness. But there shouldn’t be a rally; no one should have had to be there. I often ask myself: Will we ever fully realize Dr. King’s dream? What will it take?”