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Harlem residents reflect on political progress as ‘March on Washington’ 50th Anniversary nears

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The face of Harlem has changed.

But as the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington approaches, the message has not.

“So ladies and gentleman, it is time to raise your voices. The visionary leadership of those who organized the march, has to be honored this week, and it has to serve as a reminder to us why we have to raise our voices once again,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the crowd.

Wednesday’s outdoor “I Have a Dream Forum”, held in the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, was notable not just for its theme, but for who was in attendance.

As was the case in 1963, a diverse crowd listened as several panelists discussed the perceived progress we’ve made since Dr. King’s speech – and challenges that we still face.

“We must continue in this election cycle to ensure that not only everybody remembers all those who fought, struggled, died to ensure that we had an opportunity to vote at the polls, but that they exercise that opportunity, and that right that they have, to ensure that we can continue the American dream,”  said Lucia Gomez.

The New Yorkers PIX11 spoke with say they’re concerned not just about the broader topic of racial equality across the country – but the more narrowly focused issues facing the city – just weeks ahead of the mayoral primaries and in the shadows of Wednesday’s debate.

PIX11 asked Harlem resident Ricardo Dolcine if he felt like the issues he cares about are being addressed by the mayoral candidates. He replied, “To an extent. But for the most part, the reality is, who can you really trust? The lines are very blurred. It seems like politicians switch their opinion, or platform, with the mood of the people. So as far as a candidate actually being honest, or what to expect – you hardly see that . . . they go with the flow of the crowd.”

East Harlem resident Bridgette McCarthy added, “I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, the anniversary of the March on Washington. And I think we have a long way to go.  A lot of people think we’ve come far, but we haven’t really. And I think what we’ve been hearing tonight is we’ve lost momentum, I think. So it’s a little bit sad not to see more people here tonight. But it’s still encouraging that people are still telling us to raise our voices.”