By Tracy Jarrett, NBC News contributor
Fifty years ago, more than 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. NBC News asked six African-Americans who attended the march to share their memories of that day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – and how they’ve passed on King’s message to the next generation.
Jack White, 67, Journalist
In August of 1963, I was just out of high school and had a lot of curiosity about the civil rights movement. I grew up in Washington, a segregated city, and until 1954, I’d attended segregated schools.
On the day of the March on Washington, I put on a sport coat and a tie; it was sweltering hot. People were just more formal then.
The powers that be were afraid of violence – can’t have all those Negroes there without trouble! – but it was the opposite. People were peaceful, respectful. Joyous and reverent would describe the mood.
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous speech it was all echoes to me. Still, I knew it was a historic moment because I could feel it in the crowd – this was the moment we’d all been waiting for.