The following video is a collection of post rally wrap-up interviews with a few attendees of the major 8/28 events in Washington, D.C.
-Bill Delano & Kristin Rudman
In the aftermath of Saturday’s Restoring Honor and Reclaiming the Dream rallies in Washington, D.C., attendees reflect on the messages presented and what they think the impact will be, if any.
One nation under God?
Glenn Beck, alongside several conservative figures and Tea Party members, focused on the country’s need to return to its core foundation. That foundation, according to the TV personality, hinges on religion. Beck, who promised to avoid political commentary, instead spoke of how the nation needs to turn to God.
Religion is an important issue for Joan Barker, 58, who traveled to the Restoring Honor rally from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“We are a God loving country, and we need God’s help,” Barker said.
For Barker, the most memorable part of the day occurred in the closing moments of Beck’s speech, when the crowd joined together for a closing prayer and rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
“It was very inspiring, very Christian and very all-American,” Barker said.
Others expressed strong opinions to the contrary, as participants and protestors from both camps mingled at the Lincoln Memorial mid-afternoon.
“I’m here to kind of counter what’s going on…[Restoring Honor attendees] are using things like religion and fear to exploit us” said Andrew Palos, 20, of Northwest Washington, D.C.
According to Palos, the rally showed a division between those who support President Obama and those who oppose him.
“I like the guy in the White House,” Palos said. “I think he’s doing a good job. I think this is all backlash toward that guy.”
Despite the rally taking place on the same steps on which Martin Luther King Jr. stood when he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Barker said the rally in no way slighted King’s movement.
“Not at all–this was very much about Martin Luther King and the dream,” Barker said.
Palos, on the other hand, saw the rally as an act of degradation toward many people. “I think it’s an absolute shame that on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, we have a right wing, political pundit being a demagogue to thousands of people in our nation’s capitol,” Palos said.
Barker decided to attend the Restoring Honor rally “as soon as they announced it,” she said. As far as its impact, she hopes the rally will draw more awareness to the conservative cause and “that more people will vote,” she said.
Others think that the rally will be less consequential.
“I don’t think it will affect elections because everyone will go in with their own perspective,” said Alison S., 48, of California, who attended the Restoring Honor rally.
Many attendees felt that their point of view fell on deaf ears. While camaraderie was high among common rally participants, Palos says he was “not at all successful” in getting his message across to anyone other than those who already shared the same feelings.
“There was no way of having discourse with the people who disagreed with me, no way whatsoever,” Palos said.
-Photos and reporting by Carrie Mccloud and Lauren Pritchard
People began trickling in around 8 a.m. Two hours later, people poured into Dunbar High School’s football stadium, the line to pass through security extending around the block.
The atmosphere was charged with passion; be it hope, anger, frustration or peace. Some, including Rosalind Lewis and Leonora Thompson from Westchester County, N.Y., came to get a sense of today’s political climate.
They called President Obama’s inauguration a missed opportunity to bring the nation together. Both Lewis and Thompson believe there are two Americas.
“It’s merely divided by race. I mean that’s really it. People don’t want to admit it, but it is,” Lewis said.
Equity was the word Saturday; educational equity, economic equity and equal representation for Washington, D.C., residents. George Leonard, CEO of Friends of Bedford, which runs Dunbar High, spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream as an equal playing field for all people.
“We will show America today that not only are black students as great as anyone, but if you give us a chance, we will outdo everyone,” Leonard said. “And with that being said, we are going to reclaim the dream.”
Equity was a cornerstone of King’s message. Forty-seven years ago today, King preached that message during his March on Washington in 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” These are just a few of the words spoken by King in 1963, and the sentiment was echoed by Saturday’s speakers and marchers alike.
For people like Melvin Maxwell, today was a rite of passage. Maxwell said he took part in King’s 1963 march, and came Saturday to inspire future generations.
“I am passing the baton on from myself to my sons, and to anyone who will stop and listen to what I experienced.” He is here to pass the dream on to the next generation, because “that’s the only way it’s gonna work. If you keep your head in the sand, it will never get better.”
Speaking to the gathered masses, the Rev. Al Sharpton acknowledged the progress made toward equality in America, but said much work remained.
“We come because the dream has not been achieved, we are not there yet,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton, as well as other speakers and marchers, mentioned the Restoring Honor rally, an event sponsored by Glenn Beck and held simultaneously on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In the build-up to Saturday, there was speculation that confrontations between the two rallies’ marchers would occur. None materialized.
For those marching behind Sharpton, Saturday was about the dream, not what was being said only a few miles away.
“They may have the mall, but we have the message,” Sharpton said. “They may have the platform, but we have the dream.”
-Photos and reporting by Rachel Boehm, Aisha Chowdhry, Konstantin Vengerowsky and Khari Williams
Glenn Beck, accompanied by a number of conservative figures, led the Restoring Honor rally Saturday in Washington, D.C., an event that focused on religion and a need for the restoration of core values the TV personality believes the country was founded upon.
Forty-seven years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the historic “I Have A Dream” speech, Beck spoke about the importance of restoring religious principles in America. Beck sated he looked to God for guidance on the event, and received an answer. According to Beck, the answer was “you have all the pieces, just put them together. The pieces are faith, hope and charity.”
Beck made it clear that he believed faith in the country was low, but stated “there is one thing that that is still 15 points higher at the top of the list – our military.”
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin spoke at what was billed as non-political rally, not as a politician but as a mother of a serviceman. “Say what you want to say about me but I raised a combat vet and you can’t take that way from me,” said Palin.
Beck and Palin advocated for support of the Special Operations Warrior Fund, the beneficiary of proceeds from the event. Beck also urged attendees to make a donation to the fund via text message.
Palin touched on military issues, history and religion, weaving them together as she praised war veterans, including Marcus Luttrell.
“In honoring these giants who are linked by a solid rock foundation of faith and the one true god of justice, we must not forget the ordinary… I am speaking about America’s finest, our men and women in uniform, a force for good in this country and that is nothing to apologize for,” said Palin.
Several other public figures, including Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, were recognized for their contributions to Beck’s vision of faith, hope and charity. The baseball player was awarded for his off-field work with the Pujols Family Foundation and spoke of his belief in the responsibility to use his platform to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this platform as a baseball player,” said Pujols to a chorus of amens.
Many of the speakers throughout the program praised Beck for trying to bring religion back to America. Rev. CL Jackson, calling Beck a servant of God said “God sent his son to this Earth from heaven so that we could all get there. I think that’s the vision of Glenn Beck.”
Religion was a theme used only at the podium. Many in the crowd stated their reason for attending the event was of a religious nature.
“It [religion] is the foundation of American Society. Faith is who we are,” said Sharon Armstrong, founder of South Florida 9/12 Meetup Group. Armstrong’s opinion was seconded by a number of people in the crowd.
Prior to the rallies, potential conflict between the Restoring Honor rally and Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network’s Reclaim the Dream march captured media attention. Though some people showed open animosity towards the Reclaim the Dream march, very little conflict between the two groups materialized.
-Cara Kelly, Briona Arradondo, Dan Merica
Reclaim the Dream marchers waved flags and dangled earrings to represent their countries. Individuals and families marched to support a journey that they said they have been a part of for many years.
Below is a video of people lined up across the city to take part in the march.
- Aisha Chowdhry
People of all ages and from all cities gathered Saturday in Washington, D.C., to ‘Reclaim The Dream.’
Whether it was Carol Williams from New Jersey, Kim Smith from Newport News, Va., Faika Munirah from Cleveland, Ohio, or Norwood Collins Jr. from Washington, D.C., the Reclaim the Dream marchers shared a similar message in a movement they were passionate about.
Steve Cottrell from Denver, Jim Wilhelm, a Maryland candidate for Congress, and Curt Holmes of De Soto, Kan. explained why Saturday’s Restoring Honor rally was significant to them.
Several people at the Restoring Honor rally considered its purpose a restoration of the country to the way it was.
Carol McClellen from Atlanta said that the country needs to abide by the Constitution.
“Mandated health care, the redistribution of wealth, and several policies are negative incentives,” McClellan said when asked which policies don’t follow the Constitution.
Glenn Beck supporter Marion Matin also thinks that the country should return to the principles of the Constitution, and said that the country is headed toward socialism.
“I think free enterprise is important, and that’s why I’m here,” said Matin, a business owner from Tennessee. “When this medical insurance and stuff goes through, I think it [her business] is going to be affected in that way.”
Despite the concern surrounding political policies and the Constitution, James Flath, a member of the 1789 political action committee, said the Restoring Honor rally was not political. Still, he said it was important for him to get involved.
“This is the future of the country we’re talking about,” said Flath. “I just want the country to exist, as great as it is today, in another 200 years.”