WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The days leading up to the March on Washington have marked a pivotal point in time. Athletes have gone on strike and people have protested across the country in response to an officer-involved shooting that took place in Wisconsin.
“Everything is a critical moment right, all of these things are puzzle pieces that lead to what we want, that lead to our freedom," Sakira Coleman, the 23-year-old co-founder of Until Freedom, said. "Having sports teams influence this as well and get kind of joined into this movement in a very tangible way is everything. It is everything."
For the last few months, Coleman has been on the front lines of pushing for social justice in her hometown of D.C. by organizing protests for Until Freedom, while also attending marches herself.
“It's kind of taking that mantle on and we're joining the fight because we have no choice," she said."This is life or death."
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Coleman said she and others felt moved to form a coalition that would push District leaders to reallocate police funding back into the community, and help work towards freedom from oppression for marginalized groups.
Those ideas led to the creation of Until Freedom DC, a grassroots organization with a D.C.-focused agenda. Coleman said she could not have done it without the help of her co-founder, Emani Cannady, and her team.
She described the last few months as life-changing and liberating, adding that she has taken the torch passed to her by her grandmothers.
“My great-grandmother, before integration happened, was attending schools here when they were segregated," Coleman said. "So just in talking to her I learned a lot."
She said her great-grandmother attended the March on Washington in 1963. Now, 57 years later, Coleman will be attending in 2020.
“It's always been a fight for 400 plus years, so I think right now it's just continuing on what my ancestors have built," Coleman said. "We would not be able to do this without the people that walked before me."
The Washingtonian activist said with all the events that have happened this week, it’s critical that the momentum for social justice builds again.
“Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back, again they are just showing us exactly why our demands need to be met, why the police need to be defunded, why we need to dismantle these systems," she said. "They give us these three affirmations every day. This is not stopping."
Coleman said she will keep pushing for those demands even after the March on Washington is over.
“We refuse to stop until we get that justice,” Coleman said. “You'll see us out here until we get what we deserve. And that’s to be treated with humanity and our color to no longer be criminalized."