News / USA

People Remember Historic 1963 March on Washington

People Remember Historic 1963 March On Washingtoni
X
August 29, 2013 6:25 PM
Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march that changed the lives of all Americans. On August 28, 1963, King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to a crowd of more than 250,000 people in Washington. The event turned out to be a watershed moment in American history. VOA's Chris Simkins introduces us to some of the people who took part in the march five decades ago, and the impact it had on them.
Chris Simkins
Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march that changed the lives of all Americans. On August 28, 1963, King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to a crowd of more than 250,000 people in Washington. The event turned out to be a watershed moment in American history.

Tens of thousands gathered around the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington on Wednesday.

The 1963 demonstration led by Martin Luther King Jr. came at a time of great racial unrest, as the country sought to end long entrenched laws that discriminated against African Americans.

Five decades later, Pat Newton from Maryland returned to march again. Newton remembers the power King's 'I Have a Dream' speech had in propelling equal opportunities for African Americans.

"The 'I Have a Dream' speech really did something to me as I grew older. Because of the things that they [civil rights demonstrators] did I was able to get a job in the White House. I would have never been able to do that coming directly out of high school. Because of the roads that they paved, we were able to do a lot more," said Newton.

Many of the people who attended the original march in 1963 returned to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool to commemorate a great moment in American history.

Martin Mcadoo from North Carolina was 19 years old when he came to Washington in support of equal rights for African Americans.

"We were basically following a movement, but we never knew that particular event in the movement would have had the historical value that it turned out to have," he said.

Rowland Scherman was the government's (USIA) primary photographer for the March on Washington. He took thousands of photographs capturing a big part of American history.

"It seemed as though the stories was in the faces. You can see the reaction and the emotions of the people," he recalls.  

One of Scherman's photos captures 12-year-old Edith Lee-Payne. Her picture became an iconic image of the demonstration.

"Part of panning through that crowd there was this one, and she was so pretty and she was so interested. I was just drawn to her. I am really proud of that picture and it is being used all over the place," he said.

Lee-Payne returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the march after meeting photographer Scherman for the first time.

"That was a wonderful experience to see the man behind the camera that saw my face and captured what I was feeling without knowing what I was feeling," she said.

Scherman's photographs were locked away at the National Archives. But thanks to a television documentary called "Eye on the Sixties" by filmmaker Chris Szwedo, many of Scherman's photographs are being seen for the first time.

The photo has made Edith Lee-Payne a celebrity among those who attended the first march. Her memories of that day remain strong.

"I applauded now more in retrospect the people that stood here 50 years ago of all races, creeds and colors, knowing that what was happening in the South wasn't right even though it wasn't happening to them. There were many people who joined and we couldn't tell one from the other," she added.

Some of those who attended the 1963 march and returned for the 50th anniversary said they are determined to keep King's dream of racial equality alive and do what they can in their own communities to bring about positive change.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs