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An estimated 50,000 climate activists from across the country converged on Washington, D.C. this Sunday to participate in what organizers are billing as the largest climate change rally in U.S. history.

The “Forward on Climate” rally featured speeches on the Washington Monument grounds followed by a march to the White House demanding President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline and take climate action. The speakers and the thousands of demonstrators were energized by the president’s climate message in his second inaugural address and State of the Union speech, but also made it known his words must turn into action by rejecting the tar sands oil pipeline from Canada.

“When he signs that executive order rejecting the Keystone pipeline, not only will he be on the right side of history, but the winning side,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, one of the organizers of the event, along with 350.org president Bill McKibben and the Hip-Hop Caucus president and event emcee Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.

Speakers included First Nations people, including Crystal Lameman from the Beaver Lake Cree First Nations in Alberta, Canada, who are suing the governments of Alberta and Canada for allegedly violating their treaty rights by allowing tar sands oil mining on their lands without their permission.

“If this pipeline goes through, your government will further assist in the raping and pillaging of the land of my ancestors while deliberately ignoring the basic human rights of clean air and water,” said Lameman.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who co-chairs the Climate Change Task Force with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), gave an impassioned speech, saying it is time to help President Obama win this fight on climate change.

“We are going to have the president’s back, and he is going to have our back. And we’re going to look down the hallways of history to those children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and we’re going to say to them, ‘yes we did.’ We are going to say to them, ‘this was our time and these were our voices and this was our choice and by God, yes we did.'”

Audio of Brune’s speech:
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/79720473″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Video of the march:

 

Photos of the rally and march:

Photo, video and audio credits: Josh Marks

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