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Eleanor Holmes Norton: More Reforms Needed

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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, speaks on Capitol Hill Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, during a forum entitled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men."
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, speaks on Capitol Hill Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, during a forum entitled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men."

At age 26, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton helped organize the historic March on Washington, which she remembers fondly.

"It was the crescendo of the civil rights movement," she says.

A lot has changed since then: historic civil rights legislation was ushered through Congress. Physically, the city has also changed: a memorial has been erected to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Capitol now includes a statue of Rosa Parks and an Emancipation Hall. Norton says she hopes this week's events will breathe life into those monuments.

"The 50th anniversary provides us another opportunity to focus on why those statues, why those monuments, why those commemorations have to be recognized still," says Norton.

To her, one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our day remains fair access to the courts. She says the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin shows that more judicial reforms are needed.

"Whatever justice can be gotten in courts that is going to be the inevitable large symbol," she says. "I hope though that the symbol will move beyond this tragedy involving this child and try to form a real legacy for him out of it."

This week, marchers will try to form that legacy by demanding further reforms from policy makers.

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