Woman recalls witnessing MLK deliver ‘I Have a Dream’ speech 60 years ago

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It was on this day 60 years ago that 250K Americans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington.

And it was on that day that Martin Luther King Jr. told the world about his dream.

It was extraordinary to relive that day through the eyes of a woman who was there. Marsha Moore was just 17 when she attended the march with her mother.

She grew up to be a teacher and mentored many young people, including one of our producers. That’s how I got the joy of visiting with her. A quarter of a million people of every race and creed crowded the National Mall, marching for equality, jobs and access to fair housing and education.           

A diverse group of speakers and performers took the podium. The NAACP President Roy Wilkins, a young John Lewis, as well as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

The last speaker was a charismatic young minister named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who promised he would not stop fighting for equality until justice rolled down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

And there among those listening was 17-year-old Moore and her mom.             

“It was peaceful. It was serene to an extent because we knew we had a purpose. There was no loudness. No running. No talking,” said Moore.

Dewberry: How were people reacting in the crowd? I have a dream today.  How were people reacting when he kept repeating that phrase?

Moore: They were quiet. They were quiet, you don’t find crowds being real quiet like that anymore when someone is speaking. You could almost hear a pin drop on the grass.”

“You couldn’t sense the impact until you turned around and looked and all you could see was people. Of course, the Washington Monument was in the background, but really that was all you could see was people,” said Moore.

Moore says as a 17-year-old, she couldn’t have imagined what a monumental moment in history she was witnessing. But of course, she does as an adult. She’s attended every March on Washington held on the anniversary of that day.