What I remember most is standing on the podium looking out at the 250,000 people. It was a sight to behold.
We arrived at the March and saw up and down the Reflecting Pool people everywhere. We quickly understood it was the largest march ever!
I came to Washington fresh from Greenwood, where I had been arrested once again in June along with Bob Moses, Lawrence Guyot, and others for trying to help local people exercise their Constitutional right to vote.
What struck me most was not only the overwhelming peacefulness of the event but the extreme dignity and "upstandingness," if there is such a word, of the hundreds of thousands of mostly Black people who were there.
As many observe the anniversary of the 1963 march, there has been a great deal of celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and of black and white feet dangling together in the reflecting pool, while the violent climate below the Mason-Dixon line has largely been forgotten.
My involvement with the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (MOW) began some 10 weeks before the August 28 gathering.
For me, as a daughter of Mississippi, the March helped to stir my thoughts about where the rest of my life was headed.
I decided to volunteer for the March and was assigned to the headquarters tent on the grounds of the Washington Monument, where the buses would park and let out their passengers.
In the summer of 1963 my Hofstra College roommate, Roger Sencer, drove me to the Atlanta Georgia SNCC headquarters, for my new life as an SNCC volunteer.
People Power wins and this is but one of many more victories to come as we continue to work together for justice.
Today, history knows how the march turned out, but as we rolled south that night we had no clue what we were headed into.
Register for the Teach the Black Freedom Struggle presented by the Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History.
SNCC Veteran Karen Edmonds Spellman recounts her summer of 1963 experience as a volunteer with the New Haven, CT. March on Washington, a coalition of churches, students, and NAACP members set up to recruit people to attend the March on Washington.
Today in the 21st Century, when mass marches in the nation’s capitol are commonplace, it is hard to imagine how radical Randolph’s threat of 100,000 Black protesters descending on Washington seemed to the political establishment.
In her remarks at the Teach Truth Day of Action in Washington, DC, SNCC veteran Judy Richardson explains why she chose Hands on the Freedom Plow to donate to the “contraband book drive.”