Fifty-seven years after the first March on Washington, crowds are expected to gather this Friday to do it again. Activists will gather, amid the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest over police brutality and voter suppression, for Friday's Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks, organized by the National Action Network (NAN).
The march will be held on the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's landmark "I Have a Dream" speech. Preparations are well underway. Truckloads of barricades arrived Tuesday on the National Mall, where NAN will commemorate the 1963 march.
Here's what to know.
Schedule & Expected Speakers
Friday's march will be preceded by a rally and prayer service, according to an event permit. Participants will gather at Lincoln Circle outside the Lincoln Memorial for those events before marching to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
The march's website includes the following schedule:
- 7 a.m.: attendees gather
- 8-11 a.m.: pre-program
- 11 a.m.: program
- 1 p.m.: march
- Conclude by 3 p.m.
Martin Luther King III, attorney Benjamin Crump, and the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are expected to participate.
You can watch the march on News4, in the NBC Washington app and on this page starting around 11 a.m.
Organizers have implemented a slew of safety protocols to help protect against COVID-19.
Attendees will have their temperatures checked upon arrival. Masks are required and will be provided, along with hand sanitizer and gloves. Fencing has been set up to allow for social distancing.
If you are traveling to D.C. for the march, organizers ask that you review all coronavirus travel- and health-related information on the District's website.
"We're following protocol," the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the organizers, told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview. "The objective is not how many thousands of people will be [in Washington]. It'll still be a good crowd."
Note that anyone coming into D.C. from what's considered a high-risk state and traveling for non-essential activities would have to self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival in the District. See D.C.'s list of current high-risk states here.
If you live in a state currently on that list, organizers want you to stay home. You can still participate -- but online.
"Join us virtually," said Kyra Stephenson-Valley, policy advisor for NAN. "Our march will be streaming live at www.nationalactionnetwork.net. The whole program will be there. We won't be accepting buses from those [high-risk] states."
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday urged people to participate safely and to avoid areas where they can't maintain social distancing.
Bowser said late last month that government officials had been in contact with march organizers and that the District would not be relaxing its virus rules for participants, the AP reported.
"They are aware of all the local guidance that would affect their planning," she said. "If there are people who are coming from jurisdictions that are on that list, they would need to be quarantined."
Road Closures & Parking Restrictions
Drivers should expect extensive road closures in the area Friday and may want to consider alternate routes, D.C. police said. Police are also warning drivers to be extra careful due to an increase in pedestrian traffic.
What to Know About Metro
Masks are required on Metro, and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says his crews will be reminding riders of that.
Metro is recommending that riders spread out across the platform before boarding in order to find more sparsely populated railcars. You'll probably find the most space in the last two railcars of each train.
No stations will be closed during Friday's events, so you'll have your choice of Metro stops around the National Mall.
Anyone attending the march in-person should bring extra water because it's going to be hot, with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity.
Storms are possible on Friday afternoon, and they could be strong to severe. But it's looking like they will hold off until after the program's conclusion at 3 p.m. Follow Storm Team4 for the latest forecast.