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Senior Democrats and leaders of the civil rights and labor movements marked the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington by summoning a younger generation of activists to fight for a restoration of the Voting Rights Act to ensure universal access to the ballot box.

As thousands ringed the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial, speakers mixed themes of the past and present in paying tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech he delivered to combat racial discrimination.

“Those days, for the most part, are gone, but we have another fight,” thundered Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights veteran and House Democrat who is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. “There are forces who want to take us back. But we can’t go back.”