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Honoring the March on Washington and its First Coast Connection

10:56 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  It has been 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told a crowd about his dream for the future. 

It was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and a moment many along the First Coast are honoring.

Sitting in a service Wednesday night at the Greater Macedonia Baptist Church the importance of the Civil Rights movement and the March on Washington is remembered as several local marchers reminisce on their moment in history.

"It was about six or seven men who met in July of '63 with the President to talk about making a movement and it was A. Philip Randolph who said we're going to have a march," said Lloyd Pearson Jr.

A. Philip Randolph was born in April of 1889 in Crescent City Florida and raised in Jacksonville as a student of the Cookman Institute, an Eastside high school for Florida African Americans.

Randolph made a name for himself in the labor movement of the 1920s as the President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters -- the first predominantly black union organized around increasing wages and benefits. 

Through Randolph's success he was turned into a leader in the March on Washington movement.

"It's very, very, very important to note it's been 50 years, I have seen a lot and there has been a lot of growth," said Sollie Mitchell, a 1963 participant.

In 1963, Mitchell was an employee with the Atlantic Coast Line Rail Road, and the secretary for the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He said he was inspired into action based off of his relationship with A. Philip Randolph.

Now five decades later, as a new generation pays its respects to the men and women who risked their lives during the Civil Rights movement he believes the success of the current generation comes down to one word.

"Progress."

First Coast News

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