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FAMU commemorates 50th anniversary of March on Washington

3:38 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, crowds gathered at Florida A&M University Wednesday and said there is still much work to be done to achieve equality for all.

FAMU organized a ceremony to commemorate this day 50 years ago when 250,000 people joined the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech.

FAMU Professor James Moran recited parts of the speech from a balcony overlooking the university's Quad and Eternal Flame.

They called this the "Keepers of the Dream" ceremony and Connie Evans was there. Evans participated in the March on Washington 50 years ago when she was 16 years old.

She saved the original program from that event and showed it to the crowd. The program had 10 demands, including comprehensive civil rights legislation, desegregation of schools and a higher minimum wage.

Evans encouraged students to continue fighting for racial and economic justice.

"We still sing 'We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome.' There is a lot of work to do. Work was done by college students so I'm challenging you college students now. Please continue. Work is still to be done."

Evans recalled that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of about 10 speakers at the March on Washington in August 1963 and, at that time, she said he was not considered a major speaker that day.

However, his "I Have a Dream" speech was so compelling, it became the iconic moment of this day 50 years ago.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum said he was humbled by the courage and leadership of the young people 50 years ago who stood up to police dogs and water canons for racial and economic justice.

Now in 2013, Gillum said African Americans still have a struggle to overcome.

"Particularly in a nation and a state where a young black boy can't walk down the street at 7 o'clock at night and in the comfort of his father's neighborhood and feel that he can get safely from one place to the next, we have to know that we still have a dream to believe in and to overcome."

Gillum challenged students to consider this question:

"What are we going to dream about and what are we going to commit our time, our work, our love, our care to, so that 50 years from now the people who are reflecting here at this important statue, and at this important monument, on this important day, that they will say we made a significant contribution to change the trajectory of young people and of people like us in this country."

Dave Heller

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