‘Thirty miles a day’: They’re walking 750 miles to arrive in DC on 57th anniversary of MLK’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech – USA TODAY

This group is marching 750 miles from Milwaukee to arrive in Washington DC on the 57th anniversary of MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech. USA TODAY

CHICAGOAbout 40 people on foot, riding bikes and perched atop graffitied cars paraded through Chicago's North Side on Thursday evening. Children skipped and hung out car windows with their fists in the air. Drivers honked and blasted music as pedestrians clapped and cheered the passing caravan.

The diverse group of men, women and children was three daysinto a 750-mile march from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., plannedto coincide with the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech onAug. 28.

"When George Floyd died 69 days ago, we began to march in Milwaukee," said community activist and violence interrupter Frank Nitty, who helped organize the march. "We had already been marching 15-20 miles a day. I wanted to keep that streak going."

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Themarch, which hopes to bring awareness to racial inequity and police brutality, stepped off in Milwaukee on Tuesdaywith about 20 participants, aiming to complete 31 miles a day. The group stayed overnight in Zion, Illinois, on Tuesday, then in Winnetka, Illinois, on Wednesday, Nitty said. They hoped to reach Indiana by Thursday night.

Milwaukee residentSandy Solomon, 49, said she pulled a calf muscle on the first day and had to briefly sit out in one of the cars to wrap her leg. Then she kept walking.

"The biggest thing that most of us are dealing with is that our feet are sore, so we got some Epsom salt and were going to get some foot tubs and soak them at night," Solomon said.

Marchers from Milwaukee passes through Chicago on their way to Washington, D.C., for the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 6, 2020.(Photo: Grace Hauck)

Marchers were keeping food, luggage and other supplies inthe trunks of their cars, and Nitty's son and other teens occasionally handed out snacks and water bottles to marchers or those on the curb in need of food.

Nitty said the group initially planned to set up camp at night or rent anRV, buthe ended up payingfor hotel rooms forthe first night. On the second night, when the group had grown to 25, someone tracking the march on social mediapaid for their hotel rooms, said Nitty, who has been posting Facebook Live videos to his 80,000 followers.

Most of the meals havebeen donated, and people on foot and in cars have periodically linked up with the march. Minutes before, a woman had run over and handed Nitty a blow horn and some cash. While the group doesn't have any official name or affiliation, it supports the mission of theBlack Lives Matter movement, Nitty said.

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"We got some people who had only what they had on and joined just with that," Nitty said as a middle-aged woman began walking with the group. "It's been amazing going through these small towns and have people coming out to helpand march for awhile."

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Nitty said the group plans out its specific route about five days in advance, with a general intention to avoid highways but still passthrough major cities.

"Were taking streets the whole way," Nitty said. "Were going to make sure we go through neighborhoods and communities mainly suburban communities that dont have to deal with this issue, and let them know that theyre not going to get no sleep until Black lives matter. We want to be peaceful, but we also want to be a disruption. We dont want people to be comfortable with whats going on. Theres no comfort in Black lives not mattering."

Marchers from Milwaukee passes through Chicago on their way to Washington, D.C., for the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 6, 2020.(Photo: Grace Hauck)

ForMilwaukee-based victims advocateTory Lowe, marching from Chicago to Milwaukee is nothing new. Hesaid he has been doing it every year for the last five years to protest police brutality. Three weeks ago, Nitty approached Lowe and asked him if he was interested in going a little further.

"We're not going to stop," Lowe said. "Were going to continue until the injustice in America is dealt with properly."

But walking the walk hasn't been easy so far, Lowe said.

"Thirty miles a day world classes athletes wouldnt walk 30 miles a day for 24 days," he said. "Were doing something that most people wouldnt even attempt, and were doing it together."

This year'sanniversary of the historic marchcomes in the wake ofa series of worldwide protests condemning police brutality and calling for criminal justice reform. In June, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced he wasorganizing a march in Washington on the anniversaryto "restore and recommit that dream."

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"We're going back to Washington," Sharpton declared when giving his eulogy at the funeral of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who diedafter a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee. "We need to go back to Washington and stand up Black, white, Latino, Arab in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them, This is the time to stop this.'"

Martin Luther King III, attorney Benjamin Crump and families of police brutality victims were expected to attend the march under the rallying call "Get Your Knee Off Our Necks." The families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner planned to speak at the event, according to theNational Action Network.

Amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic,the NAACP this weeklaunched a website for a "virtual march" to providea "series of events and activities to recommit to the dream Dr. Martin Luther King defined in the 1963 march, to call for police accountability and reform, and to mobilize voters ahead of the November elections," according to an NAACP press release.

Contributing:Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel;Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY


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'Thirty miles a day': They're walking 750 miles to arrive in DC on 57th anniversary of MLK's 'I Have A Dream' speech - USA TODAY

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