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A new March on Washington through the eyes of Black families — including Jacob Blake’s

Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Friday to commemorate the iconic 1963 March on Washington -- and to communicate a message of their own, calling for an end to the killing of Black Americans at the hands of police. Yamiche Alcindor reports and talks to Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake, whose shooting this week by Kenosha police sparked new outrage.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall here in Washington, D.C., today to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington, and to create a new march of their own.

    Today's called for an end to killings of Black Americans at the hands of police.

    Yamiche Alcindor reports.

  • Woman:

    We almost ran here when we saw the crowd. I'm very inspired.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Angela Flounory's late mother, Helen, witnessed in person Dr. Martin Luther King deliver these iconic words at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.:

    I have a dream.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    King's speech was the culmination of the historic March on Washington in 1963.

    It brought together more than 250,000 people to the nation's capital to demand economic and racial justice; 57 years later, in the middle of a pandemic, the 53-year-old drove her daughter Zora and their friend Rebecca Phoenix more than 500 miles from Detroit to D.C. She wanted to stand where her own mother had on that historic day.

  • Angela Flounory:

    Those stories became my stories. And I also want to model for my daughter that we have to stand up, that this is a struggle that's going to be ongoing that you have to participate in.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    I spoke to the group as they toured Washington earlier this week; 15-year-old Zora says she needed to be here.

  • Zora Flounory:

    There's just so many people that are ignorant to the problems that are going on in this country. And I really — I need to see that change in my lifetime.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Today, on the National Mall, the group joined the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks rally. It was organized by Reverend Al Sharpton's civil rights group, the National Action Network.

  • Al Sharpton:

    Black lives matter, and we won't stop until it matters to everybody!

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The march was planned in response to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans. The killings fueled protests around the country throughout the summer.

    But, this week, video of a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparked new outrage. Blake survived, but his family says he's paralyzed from the waist down. They said he was handcuffed to his hospital bed, until earlier today, when he posted bond.

    He faces a number of charges include a third-degree sexual assault charge from July. His attorney told "NewsHour" Blake plans to plead not guilty.

    Family spoke with the march.

  • Lettetra Widman:

    We will not be your docile slave. We will not be a footstool to oppression.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris also made an appearance in a pre-recorded video.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    If we work together to challenge every instinct our nation has to return to the status quo, and combine the wisdom of longtime warriors for justice with the creative energy of the young leaders today, we have an opportunity to make history right here and right now.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Organizers required all attendees to have tickets, wear masks, and get their temperatures checked.

    But despite the potential health risks, thousands came to stand in solidarity against police brutality.

    C.J. Jessup came from Minneapolis. He says George Floyd was killed a block from his home.

  • C.J. Jessup:

    I wanted to come here because I wanted to be a part of — I wanted to be a part of change. I wanted to be a part of one of the voices.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Linda Roebuck traveled from New York City.

  • Linda Roebuck:

    I am so tired of crying in my bedroom watching — watching our brothers being killed by police. I'm so tired of it.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Organizers say they hope today's march spurs new legislation aimed at stopping police violence against African Americans.

    They point out that, after the 1963 march, both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were both passed.

  • Eleanor Holmes Norton.:

    It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of that moment for everything that's happened since. This is a march that had to happen.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Earlier this week, I spoke with D.C.'s Delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton.

    Back in 1963, as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, she helped organize transportation for the March on Washington.

  • Eleanor Holmes Norton:

    Just as in '63, the country says, we're not going to take that anymore, there must be equal treatment, I think you're hearing that same refrain when it comes to police actions that take the lives of people needlessly.

    Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    On that August day in 1963, the youngest speaker was the late Congressman John Lewis, who died last month.

  • Jon Meacham :

    Today, we think of John Lewis as this iconic, monumental figure. At the March on Washington, he was the young radical.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Historian Jon Meacham wrote a biography of Lewis, published this week.

  • Jon Meacham :

    The world view he brought to the racial and economic problems of injustice of his time, I think, is incredibly relevant to where we are now, not because it means everybody should wait. Quite the opposite. It means freedom now.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And, 57 years later, that message is still being echoed by young African Americans, like Zora. The third generation in her family to come to Washington and fight for equality, she was thinking of her grandmother.

  • Zora Flounory:

    It says a lot that I need to come back here. But, otherwise, I feel really proud. And I'm proud to be able to take on her fight, her struggle, and to hopefully end things in my generation, so we don't have to do this again.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Just before the family spoke at the march, I had a chance to sit down with Jacob's father.

    Tell me a little bit about how your son is doing. I have heard he's paralyzed. He's handcuffed, possibly.

  • Jacob Blake Sr.:

    He's paralyzed from the waist down, and he needs support right now. He's not feeling well. He's not doing good. You know how your child tells you, I don't feel good, daddy?

    That's what he told me. He said: "Daddy, I just don't feel good."

    I said: "Well, daddy's going to be here."

    You know, you — I don't care how old your children get. They're still your babies. They will always be your babies. So, when he squoze my hand and he started weeping, I weep right with him, I weep right with him.

    But I love my son. He's a human being. He was shooting my son while he was pulling my son's shirt to get him closer to him. What sense does that make?

    How do parents — how do you think a parent would feel, watching his son basically — attempted murder on your son by the people that are paid to protect and serve?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    What was it like for you to watch that video, knowing that that was your child?

  • Jacob Blake Sr:

    When I first watched it, I got a little emotional. Then I got mad. Then I sat down and got determined. And then I realized I had to do what I had to do.

    I will never leave my son's side, because he said he never wants to go outside again.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    What are your grandsons saying right now? What…

  • Jacob Blake Sr:

    The day my son was shot was my 8-year-old grandson's birthday. So, two hours before he was shot, he was on the phone telling his pop-pop — that's me — oh, he had a list of what he wanted. And he was so excited.

    I could hear his little feet. He was telling me what he was going to get and what he wanted his daddy to do. And then, two hours later, this.

    Our father was here at the first march in D.C. He marched from Selma to Montgomery. He got whooped on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. So, sometimes, you get your whooping directly. And, sometimes, you get it other ways.

    We had all planned to come here, and then this happened. So, I said, well, I cannot not be here.

    I don't think we have come far at all, OK? We're — this is 2020, and we're still fighting to vote? It's 2020.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    What does it mean?

  • Jacob Blake Sr:

    It means that chattel slavery was a powerful thing. It's never gone anywhere.

    They have taken the chains off only from around your ankles. Our brains are chained. Our wallets are chained. And you can't even touch the chain.

    But that's how diabolical chattel slavery was to us, as brown and black people.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Did you anticipate that this might happen to your son? And what did you tell him?

  • Jacob Blake Sr:

    Being a black man, we anticipate that it might happen to us any second of any day.

    When a policeman pools me over, the first thing I think is, they're getting ready to shoot me. I'm too damn big. So, I hurry up and pull my handicap sticker out. Hey, look, you will have no problems from me.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    What do you make of the protests, the NBA boycotting? What do you make of what…

  • Jacob Blake Sr:

    I was on the phone yesterday with the entire bubble. That means every team that was in the bubble.

    And they asked me what I wanted them to do. And I said I couldn't tell them what to do, but the Milwaukee Bucks showed you the way.

    And the Bucks call me every night. And we were in tears. The whole Bucks team and myself cried on the phone together.

    So, if you don't think it's real, it's real. And it starts — the athletes are setting precedent. So, I'm not going to stop.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, again, Yamiche spoke with Jacob Blake's father this afternoon just before his son was released from police custody.

    He's no longer handcuffed or restrained, but he does remain in the hospital.

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