BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 01:21 GMT 02:21 UK
A child of the movement
Most schools in the south were still segregated before the march

Many of the foot soldiers who filled the civil rights battlegrounds were children and teenagers. They marched, picketed and were thrown in jail. Pat Brown was in high school in Baltimore when she got involved in the battle to end segregation in public schools.

The weeks leading up to the march were swelteringly hot. There were announcements on the radio about how to keep your food fresh on the day of the march and suggesting what to wear to keep cool.

Martin Luther King was the last speaker at the rally
Do I think Martin Luther King's dream has been achieved? No. Racism went underground, and has become harder to flush out
The prospect of the march was exciting and there was a general sense of expectation. But there was a sense of danger, too. We heard that officials in Washington, not knowing what to expect, were considering activating the National Guard.

However, there was no rioting, it was more like going on a huge picnic. It didn't feel like people had gathered to protest in anger. Instead there was an overwhelming feeling of togetherness.

The struggle up until that day had felt so isolated from a generational standpoint. A lot of teenagers and college students had been involved in peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins. We were the ones who were most able to take the risks. But we were still arrrested.

The march, however, was a great opportunity for people of all ages to come together to make a single statement. I went by bus with my parents, my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and people from the church.

The atmosphere was one of a giant picnic
I have a dream that... one day, right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers
Martin Luther King
I had to stand on tip-toes throughout the speeches so I could see the speakers.

But by the time Martin Luther King came up onto the podium, I was sitting on the ground looking out at the people and up at the sky. I was watching the light coming through the leaves.

The words I distinctly remember were those of his dream of black and white children joining hands. It was such a peaceful image.

The march changed my life. I left with a sense of connection - that the community had been drawn together in a way that it hadn't before, with solidarity, with intelligence and without violence.

I don't think Martin Luther King's dream has been fully achieved. Racism has gone underground and has become harder to flush out. And there is blind anger within both the white and African-American communities that has overshadowed what was significant 40 years ago.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific