Ordinary people share tales of dreams deferred

Agenda remains the same: jobs, voting rights and “justice for all”

D. Kevin McNeir | 8/29/2013, 9 a.m.
Blacks, whites and Hispanics exchanged hugs, handshakes and high-fives along Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s Capitol last Saturday morning as ...
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, thousands can be seen gathered at the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech on the National Mall, on Saturday, August, 24, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ordinary people have their say

As this writer moved through the crowds of marchers, people willingly shared their stories, their concerns and their hopes and dreams of what America could look like — if we would remove the chains of racism, sexism and other forms of oppression. Here are some of their comments.

Emily Trotter, mid-60s, Philadelphia: “I was here for the first march and brought my three sisters with me this time. More Blacks have come this time. What we faced in those days would bring tears to your eyes. The sacrifices were real and lasting — some of us don’t appreciate that today.”

Joe Nickens, 72, Alexandria, VA: “I’m here with my Kappa brothers from all over the U.S. Back in ‘63 I was a young man living in Oakland and couldn’t afford to get here. This time to support our demands for justice and equality, I would have come in a wheelchair. It’s time to level the field for women and all minorities.”

George McDonald, 47, Washington, D.C.: “We must embrace our history and the past if we really want to move forward. In some ways, Blacks have actually regressed. We can now use public transportation and stay in hotels but we have more Black men in prison than in college. Our families are under assault and economically our race is lagging way behind. That’s injustice.”

Claudia Haines, 62, Bowling Green, KY:”I’m a white woman and unlike some of my family, I have always advocated equality for everyone. I don’t know what Blacks have gone through but I think whites could help make this a better place for all Americans if we just sat down and listen.”

Sunset does not mark the end

As the crowds dwindled and marchers returned to their hotels, their buses or their nearby homes, a group of students from Howard University’s Law School talked about the future and the role they hope to play.

“We know that we have to do our part because Blacks are still struggling and demanding equality and justice,” said third-year student Dierra Luckett, 25. “Our generation is not satisfied with life in the U.S. We are using social media to spread the word and to bring about change.”

“Athar Haseebullah, 26, an alumnus of the law school that now works as a prosecutor in New York, said in some ways, “life is harder for my generation.”

“I wanted to be here and experience this day but it’s strange — we never even heard Dr. King’s speech played,” he said. “King was the driving force behind the movement. I’d like to start a family one day but many students, like me, are riddled in debt. We’re trying to achieve the American dream but it’s becoming more and more difficult to obtain.”