Demonstrators walk to the Lincoln Memorial for Friday's "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" event in Washington, DC.
Friday's March on Washington has kicked off with emphatic calls for police reform, justice reform and voter action, 57 years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech echoed from the same spot on the National Mall.
Participants gathering at the Lincoln Memorial for the event, organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton and joined by King's son Martin Luther King III, are expected to include families of Black people slain or severely injured in police encounters, including George Floyd and Jacob Blake.
"We will meet the moment. We will work toward healing (and) justice ... like our lives depend on it, because they do," US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, told crowds late Friday morning.
"We want an America that will stomp out the divisiveness, the intimidation and the threat. We want a White House who stands as a healer in chief, who understands black mothers' pain," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told the crowd.
Friday's march -- which will head to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in the afternoon -- comes exactly 57 years since crowds packed the National Mall to demand civil rights and economic opportunity in 1963.
The event, dubbed the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks," brings an end a tumultuous week, one that saw Blake shot by police in Wisconsin. It follows a summer that has seen a global outcry over the killings of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. And it takes place in the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of color.
Demonstrators gather outside the Lincoln Memorial for Friday's march.