Midstate civil rights advocates mark March on Washington anniversary

Written by Craig Layne, Morning Edition Host/Reporter | Aug 23, 2013 2:22 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" on August 28, and some members of the midstate community who were at the DC civil rights rally say the message is just as strong half a century later.

Long before she lived in Harrisburg, Jessica Butler-Grant says she developed a strong sense of injustice growing up in segregated Texas.

She went to the "March on Washington" after being involved in efforts to integrate Houston's movie theaters.

She made the long bus ride to join the estimated 250,000 people on the National Mall.

"It was just like a big picnic, meeting people from different places, talking to them, and, of course I had no fear, and I didn't see any disturbances," Butler-Grant remembers. "It was just a treat for me."

Greater Harrisburg NAACP president Stanley Lawson says even though he grew up in unsegregated Pennsylvania, many factors motivated him to go to the gathering.

"Things needed to be changed, so we marched," Lawson says. "We marched for justice, we marched for employment, and unfortunately, even today you could justify a march for underemployment."

The march where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech is widely credited for helping grow support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A group of civil rights advocates is making a trip from Harrisburg to 50th anniversary commemmoration events in Washington on Saturday.

Hear more stories about the march from Butler-Grant and Lawson on Radio Smart Talk.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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