People from all walks of life gathered Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Tyler to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“(Today) means a lot of different things,” Willer Green, 53, said. “When I was a boy we couldn’t walk on the same street. … Now I’m enjoying very much to walk down the street with my brother, no matter what his skin color is.”
More than 200,000 people filled the Washington Mall in 1963 as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march is considered a success in pressuring the John F. Kennedy Administration to create a strong civil rights bill, according to Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.
But many people believe more changes are still needed.
“I realize in this country, change has come that has somewhat allowed me to be elected a member of the court,” said County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton at the event. “But I’m also aware of the things that have not changed as much as we had hoped.
“Whereas 50 years ago today Martin Luther King delivered the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, it is disheartening to look out in this country and find we’re still fighting the same battles for voter rights, under the restriction of the Voter ID Law and economic relief through jobs. The check that Dr. King proclaimed not cashed is still stamped ‘insufficient funds’ today.”
Several people, white and black, Catholic, Protestant, Jew and Muslim, read King’s speech aloud at the event.