Following the Foundation's recent screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble, CPLF Board Member Jill Burrows shared this wonderful interview recalling her experience as a young woman at the March on Washington. We hope Jill's experience inspires you. Thank you, Jill!
THE DREAM LIVES ON....EXCERPT FROM 2013 BBC INTERVIEW OF JILL BURROWS
(BBC): It is 50 years since the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech (Washington, D.C. on 28 August 1963).
On 28 August 1963, more than 200,000 Americans joined a march on Washington demanding equal justice for all citizens under the law.
On that day, the inter-racial crowd heard Martin Luther King deliver his famous speech, predicting a time when freedom and equality for all would become a reality in the US.
Here is an interview with Jill Burrows whose life was touched by that moment: Here she reflects on and shares her memories half a century on.
Jill Burrows, 67, communications professional, Cambridge, Massachusetts:
During the 50s and 60s black Americans in the South were born, lived, worked, socialized and died in communities that were separate and distinctly unequal from those of our white counterparts.
Although I was just a young girl at the time, I still have vivid memories of drinking out of Coloured Only fountains and going to a segregated school. Bus drivers instructed us to move to the back of the bus - even when there were no other passengers.
Despite this my parents were emphatic in their belief that, in America, if we worked hard and were good citizens anything and everything was possible. This conviction appeared to be in direct opposition to general expectations.
When Dr. King came into our lives he expanded our horizons, fueled our expectations, extended hope, and offered the nation a blueprint for enacting change.
In August of 1963, I joined the March on Washington with my parents. Having lived in the South and experienced all we had, we felt it was really important to be there and to show our support."
(BBC): Jill was 17 when she joined the 1963 March on Washington
"It was the most amazing experience because people there were so loving. We all felt as if we were one. I can remember taking notes during King's stirring speech because even at the time it felt like an extraordinary moment in history.
As far as the eye could see, well-meaning individuals, both black and white, linked arms and put their hearts into singing hopeful renditions of We Shall Overcome.
I remember thinking that surely everyone in the world would hear - and heed - Dr. King's simple but powerful message of love, peace and social justice for all.
Sadly, on the evening of April 4 1968, when the shots rang out at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, it became apparent that there were those who had not.
For some time afterwards it felt as if those who love to hate had seized the day, and it was devastating. But that was now (over) 50 years ago. Reverend King's message of sacrifice, unyielding courage and service to others, feels just as radical and empowering today as it did then."
Interview by Nathan Williams, BBC News
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