52 years ago I boarded a bus destined for "the March on Washington"along with two dozen or so other South Jersey teens. We didn't all know one another but we had become acquainted while we waited with some apprehension for the bus to arrive. The bus wasn't full and there were also a several adults. In those days this was about a four and a half hour bus ride. During the first half hour of the trip the person responsible for our bus gave us instructions on how to behave under different conditions, which included the possibility of arrest or harrassment, riot or calm - the point being we didn't know exactly what to expect. We were all northern raised teens and actually represented quite a diverse group considering the fact that we were all from rural and small town areas of Burlington and Camden counties in Southern NJ, the mix included Black, Jewish, White, Native and Asian teens. We all had some experience with local sit-ins and boycotts, and picketting but this was something that was out of our territory so we didn't really know how it would play out. We sang all the movement songs on the bus ride which were all very inspirational and as we arrived in DC along with thousands of other busses the energy was magical. We could see that the people we passed in the streets were all in high spirits and very positive. Even the weather was perfect. We got our instructions for meeting the bus for our return trip and we were cut loose in the city. It was truly amazing. We all more or less went our separate ways since the bus I went on wasn't part of a group. I just strolled through DC meeting kids from all over the country and exchanging addresses and finally drifted to the Mall and sat in the grass as the music and the speeches got started. In all of this day I saw not one altercation and the mood was such that everyone present was fully aware of the part each one of us played on that momentous occasion. I think that most of the people there that day were active in there own local day to day struggles, but from that day on we understood just how much, we were not alone or isolated and this breathed renewed resolve into the movement to put the nation on the right pathof liberty and justice for all. Heady stuff but then it was something we were committed to. It's hard to believe that 50 years later, in spite of some changes that we still have so far to go. I suppose really, that every day, we have to remain in a state of vigilence for the cause of universal justice and as long as new people keep being born, the work will never be completely done.
For Jobs and Freedom: A Black Nouveau Special | Program
National Archives and Records Administration
THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON
U.S. Information Agency. (1982 - 10/01/1999)
ARC Identifier 49737 / Local Identifier 306.3394. Scenes from Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., August 1963. People walking up sidewalk; gathering on Mall, standing, singing. Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, crowd gathered on the Mall. People marching with signs, many men wearing UAW hats. People at speakers podium, men with guitars. Crowds outside of the White House, sign: The Catholic University of America. Band, people marching down street. Many signs, including All D.C. wants to vote! Home Rule for DC; Alpha Phi Alpha; and Woodstock Catholic Seminary for Equal Rights. Lincoln Memorial with crowds gathered around reflecting pool. People singing and clapping at speakers platform. Signs, people clapping. Man speaking, woman playing guitar and singing at podium. More speakers and shots of the crowd. A chorus, NAACP men in crowd. Close-ups of people in crowd with bowed heads. Shots taken from above of White House. More speakers, including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Women at podium singing We Shall Overcome. Crowd swaying, singing, holding hands.