Remembering the March on Washington

Wednesday marked 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington and delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. His four iconic words resonate a half-century later, and many who lived through the Civil Rights movement say the passage of time hasn't diminished impact of the speech.

"He told them 'I may not get there with you, but hallelujah - I've been to the mountain top' and he said no matter what we have to keep on with the dream," said Rev. James A. Hailey III of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Quincy.

Deacon Alvin Simpson of Quincy stood in the crowd that day and still remembers hearing King's famous words.

"Today, we are standing on the shoulders of the many who gave their lives for the freedoms that we have today," he said.

Simpson was 26 years old when King addressed the crowd that day, and took a bus from his home in St. Louis in order to attend the March on Washington. Simpson still keeps a large collection of newspaper clippings about the event. He says that the peacefulness of the demonstration is what he remembers most and that being a part of the March on Washington is something he will always cherish.

"It means the world to me because I can tell my children and grandchildren about what it was like then and before that time, having been brought up in the South, of what discrimination was,"

Quincy residents remember King as a Civil Right leader for all races. His speech on the national mall in Washington aimed to unite people from all backgrounds.

"It applies to everybody because it wasn't a selfish dream, and he didn't allow it to be a selfish dream," said Hailey.

Hailey and Simpson say teaching the nation's youth about King's message remains important. They say the nation has taken great strides since that day, but there are still some goals to reach.

"To see the progress being made today and the young people preparing themselves for the future has been one of the greatest things to come out of the Civil Rights movement," Simpson said.

Hailey added, "When he brought us all together as that movement happened, it was to bring us together to remember that America has more to give, so give your best,"