WASHINGTON – As the nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement's March on Washington Wednesday, thousands gathered in Washington, D.C. to remember the historic event. Some attendees told The Christian Post they hoped their children and grandchildren would carry on the tradition 50 years from now.
"It was important for me to be here to keep 'the dream' alive. To let people know – Martin Luther King, everything he did, he didn't do in vain," Shirley Poindexter, 65, told CP.
Poindexter was with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her group of about 50 traveled by bus from Roanoke, Va., to attend the event.
Fifty years ago, Poindexter was traveling through D.C. on a train to Connecticut. She recalled the pride she felt at the large crowds who were also on the train for the March. In another 50 years, she added, she does not expect to be there but wants her children and grandchildren to be there in her place.
The day's events began with a march from Union Station, down the National Mall to the event stage in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Crowds gathered throughout the rainy day on both sides of the reflecting pool. No tickets were required, but attendees stood in line for 30 minutes to about an hour to get through the security checkpoints.
Speakers included Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, and "Kid President" Robby Novak. Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, of the group Peter, Paul and Mary, sang "Blowin' in the Wind."
Jim Reeb, 58, from Illinois, told CP that he was looking forward to seeing three presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – together for the event. The reasons for the original March on Washington still exist today, Reeb noted.
"We do get to see Barack Obama," he added, "who, to an extent, is the culmination of 'the dream,' but we still have a long way to go."
Charetta McNeill, of West River, Md., was delighted to bring her 25 and 17 year-old nephews with her to experience the event. She was so excited to share the moment with them that she woke at 2 a.m. because she was unable to sleep.
She wanted them there "so they can see all the people, all races and all nationalities, and it's just a beautiful sight," she said. "I knew it was going to be something spectacular."
McNeill traveled with a group of about 100 representing the American Federation of Government Employees.
"When I look at it from a historical perspective, and I look at the situation now, I'm very excited about the possibilities," McNeill added.