Rev. Al Sharpton will bring together prominent black activist groups for a rally ahead of Inauguration Day, setting the stage for what he says will be a full-force resistance from him and other black leaders during the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
The “We Shall Not be Moved” rally on Jan. 14 in Washington will focus on voting rights, criminal justice, healthcare and economic justice. Sharpton’s group, National Action Network, along with the National Advancement of Colored People, National Urban League and Black Women’s Roundtable are hosting the event on the National Mall.
“We are calling on on the Democrats and moderate Republicans to stand up and block and filibuster and do whatever to stop a retreat in those areas,” Sharpton said in an interview Tuesday. “These things should be totally and unequivocally non-negotiable.”
Sharpton said he opted to hold the rally on Saturday Jan. 14–the first day of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend–to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and “set the tone” of inauguration. He hopes that if people see a massive group rallying for civil rights, they will question the president-elect on his stance on these issues.
Sharpton said his group and other prominent organizations focused on black civil rights will be more visible during the Trump administration than they were during the Obama years. That will start with pushing back on some of the nominations that Trump has made to his Cabinet, particularly the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as attorney general, Sharpton said.
“We can expect that we can hold him accountable. We are going to have a presence at every appointment hearing. There must be an organized resistance movement, and not just based on crises and episodes,” he said. “Those he has nominated to his cabinet are in many ways a nightmare.”
The rally takes its name from the folk song “We Shall Not be Moved,” which became an anthem during the Civil Rights Movement.
Family members of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and other black men killed by police are expected to attend the rally, Sharpton said. It is set to begin at 9 a.m. at the National Sylvan Theater in front of the Washington Monument. Demonstrators will then march along Independence Avenue until it reaches West Potomac Park in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Mike Litterst, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, says the agency has been working with the rally’s organizers to secure permits.
Sharpton, a prominent Civil Rights era leader, has organized many rallies fight for racial justice in recent years. He was one of the leaders of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington and in 2014 led a “Justice for All” rally in D.C. along Pennsylvania Avenue.
The National Action Network was responsible for many of the rallies bringing national attention to the killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
“We Shall Not Be Moved” rally leaders are working with groups across the country to organize buses to the rally.
Sharpton said he and Trump spoke on the phone earlier this month about their disagreements.
“We will not allow Martin Luther King’s dream and Obama’s legacy be rolled back without them knowing there’s a fierce fight,” Sharpton said.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Perry Stein