DETROIT (WWJ) Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
Detroiter Edith Payne, who was 12 at the time, was among the throngs there that day in 1963 protesting racism and joblessness. She remembers the crowds, the heat, the songs — and the speech.
“I’m changed and more inspired to do more of what people at that time did,” she said, describing herself as a civil rights activist.
April Smith, a retired Detroit teacher, also remembers being there as a 14-year-old — way, way at the back of the Mall as Dr. King took to the lectern. She remembers the silence and awe as he spoke.
She described herself as being “in good company.”
“It was a sea of people and whatever the famous speeches were, we couldn’t hear it back where we were,” she said, adding she was moved when she later heard recordings.
Three U.S. Presidents honored Dr. King at the “Let Freedom Ring” and Call to Action ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.
Payne thought it especially apt for Obama to speak.
“President Obama has said he stands on the shoulders of those that stood for us and died for us,” Payne said. “Having an African-American president is something we can all be proud of and Dr. King, and others, made that possible.”