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Retired Jacksonville teacher remembers being at March on Washington

6:42 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pictures are faded by time, but not his memory of being in the crowd that hot summer day August 28, 1963.

"I remember Mahalia Jackson singing, and I remember Peter Paul and Mary because I had been in Vermont," said Cula Jackson. 

Jackson said he was returning from a YMCA summer camp in Vermont when his parents told him they were going to Washington.

"Of course I whined," said Jackson, "I had been away from home for weeks I was ready to go home.

For a 13-year-old, Washington was a long ways from Dublin, Georgia. Jackson said when he saw the crowd, it was overwhelming.

"I had never seen so many people in my life," he said, "I vividly remember the March, I remember it was hot."

Jackson said he found a shady spot under a line of trees near the Lincoln Memorial and that's where he stood. 

"It was like a big picnic," said Jackson, "people had their lunches out."

He said he doesn't remember all of the speakers or everything that was said, but he remembers the atmosphere was electric and reached a crescendo with Dr. King's speech.

"When he finished the place just erupted, boom!" said Jackson.

Jackson said at the time, he did not realize he was an eyewitness to a dramatic change in the nation's history.

"By the time I was fifteen, sixteen, I became more knowledgeable as to what it was about," he said.

The retired educator said when he measures the words of King's "I have a dream" speech with today's society he finds there are still gaps between then and now.

"If he was alive, he would not be satisfied with where we are," said Jackson.

He treasures his slightly worn pictures, his passes to several congressional offices and the memories of August 1963. He has shared his experience with his children and grandchildren.   

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