Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. vowed to see the end of Jim Crow, Rev. Al Sharpton declared that the next generation of Jim Crow laws will be overcome as well.
“Dr. King and those that fought with him, they fought and they beat Jim Crow,” he said. “We come today to not celebrate and commemorate, but we come as the children of Dr. King to say that we are going to face Jim Crow’s children because Jim Crow had a son called James Crow Jr. Esquire.”
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Jim Crow was the blanket term used to describe laws that mandated segregation in various forms and kept African-American voters from cast their ballots. Sharpton pointed to today’s laws, including voter suppression, stand your ground laws, along with stop and frisk policies, as the new wave of Jim Crow.
“He writes voting suppression laws, and puts it in language that looks different, but the results are the same,” he said. ”They come with laws that tell people to stand their ground, they come with laws that tell people to stop and frisk but I come to tell you just like our mothers and fathers beat Jim Crow, we will beat James Crow Jr. Esquire.”
To galvanize action in the crowd, he drew a biblical comparison, noting that Dr. King’s generation of the civil rights movement was often referred to as the “Moses Generation.” Sharpton called for today’s generation to pick up the mantle, as the “Joshua Generation.” Joshua was the apprentice who traveled alongside Moses before succeeding him as the leader of the Israelites.
“We saw Dr. King and the dream cross the red of apartheid and segregation, but we have to cross the Jordan of unequal economic parity,” he said. “We have to cross the Jordan of continued discrimination and mass incarceration. We’ve got to keep on fighting and we’ve got to vindicate and stand up and substantiate that the dream was not for one generation, the dream goes on until the dream is achieved.”
Sharpton also paid tribute to Dr. King:
And we thank a mighty God for giving us a Martin Luther King.
We thank a mighty God that brought us a long way.
He brought from disgrace to amazing grace.
He brought us from the butler to the president.
He brought us from Beulah to Oprah.
He brought us a mighty long way, and we thank God for the dream and we’re going to keep on fighting until the dream is a reality.
Watch Rev. Sharpton’s remarks in their entirety above, and watch his longer remarks from Saturday’s March on Washington event below.