A hoard of Houstonians have gathered in Washington D.C. for the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington. It was a day that changed our country forever. That day on August 28, 1963 was a massive fight for freedom and equality. It was a battle that didn't include punches, kicks or hits but rather words, which proved to be far stronger than any of those things.
Fifty years ago it was merely a dream. "I was 18 years old," says the head of the Houston Federation of Teachers Gayle Fallon. Fallon was there right near the front of the crowd as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered those famous words in his I Have A Dream speech. "The place was so peaceful. A crowd of a quarter million people and it was quiet enough to hear the speeches. Standing there at that march you could tell something was going to change because it no longer had the option of not changing. You just knew being there that this was the start of a major change in this country. You could feel it," recalls Fallon. She says she remembers the build up before the day of the march. "They had for over a month been just bombarding us with news about the march, only it was 'oh my God lock the city down' type news. Just a real fear campaign," Fallon says and the day of the march? "They had the National Guard on alert. They closed all the bars and liquor stores in D.C., which thinking back was extremely insulting. We had a large chapter across the river in Virginia, The American Nazi Party. They showed up in full regalia trying to provoke an incident. They're marching up and down, saying racist slogans. They couldn't provoke anything. They got frustrated and went home," recalls Fallon who had one of the best spots at the march. "I got fairly close up because being short people kept pushing me in front of them saying 'oh here you can't see'. I was pretty much up there right behind the press," Fallon says.
The, then, teenager thought. "I bet people are going to remember this speech," Fallon says. The country is certainly remembering. At HISD's Eastwood Academy High School history teacher Dave McMurchy organized a special viewing event. At 2:00pm Dr. King's speech was aired in every classroom here. The kids then talked about what they saw and what stood out. "I like the way Dr. King talked about if you have freedom it's just, you can do whatever you want. With equality everyone is treated the same," explained one student to his classmates.
All these years later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words still resonate. He is still a role model to many. "Your words inspire me to dream beyond what I can see," says Lockhart Elementary student Curtis Babers. The 4th grader won Houston's MLK oratory this year. He spoke and signed his entire speech. You see, he learned sign language because his mother is hearing impaired. "My dream is there will be less young men choosing a life a crime and more young men choosing a major in college," Babers voice soars as he speaks. His winning speech is certainly something to see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9z9j2-pu1c
So why is it important for kids to remember Dr. King? "It's absolutely critical because if you forget history or you stop teaching it you very often repeat it. I think they can never forget what King said and the day we do this country is in deep trouble," says Fallon. Dr. King's dream hasn't been forgotten. In fact, it's being continued by not only people with skin like his but with values like his. People like Mr. McMurchy are making sure of that. "Let freedom ring for all people," Mr. McMurchy announced over the school's public address system as he told students the importance of watching Dr. King's speech.
As bell's chimed across the nation to, literally, let freedom ring, the kids at Eastwood were ringing right along as well. So how much has changed in 50 years? "There's still racial prejudice. What has changed for the good, at least so far if we don't see this country backslide, is that it's not by law," says Fallon.