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Some of the thousands of people rallying near the Lincoln Memorial this morning were also there 50 years ago, at the 1963 March on Washington. Others who will be at the rally today weren't born until decades later, but say the messages of that day still resonate.
China Green is a senior at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Northeast D.C., where she's helped organize a group of about 100 students.
"We weren't alive when the first March happened, but we want to be able to say, 'Oh, I not only marched, but I got everyone from my school to march,'" says Green.
She says the March on Washington's demands for jobs and freedom are just as important today: "unemployment is still a huge problem, especially here, east of the Anacostia River."
Jazzmine Ellis teaches African American history at the school, and says it's important to get students involved in events like this: "So that they can continue, and actually teach their children — when they grow up and have children — that history is alive, and that they were part of something that was great."
Though the actual 50th anniversary of the March on Washington isn't until next Wednesday, a number of large-scale events are taking place this weekend to commemorate the seminal demonstration. According to D.C. officials, some 30,000-50,000 people are expected to attend the events.
The day's primary march is being organized by the National Action Network, and will start with a gathering at the Lincoln Memorial at 8 a.m. Speakers will include the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, the families Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till, Rep. John Lewis; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. After speeches, a march will proceed to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
At 9 a.m., Mayor Vince Gray and D.C. voting rights advocates are organizing a demonstration for statehood at the D.C. World War I Memorial located along Independence Avenue. At 9:30 a.m., the group will march to the Lincoln Memorial to connect with the larger demonstration, and proceed to march to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.