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March on Washington: Californian is out to fulfill a 1963 dream

August 28, 2013|By Richard Simon

WASHINGTON -- Some who came in 1963 were back. And then there were others, like Joyce Hamilton, who flew from California to attend the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday to fulfill a dream.

Hamilton, 65, of Oakland, and her husband Bill, 74, both black, were at the anniversary to fulfill not her dream as much as the one of her late grandmother, who became teary-eyed in 1963 when she couldn't attend the march.

Hamilton, who was 15 in 1963, said she remembers watching Martin Luther King  Jr. on TV give his "I have a dream" speech.

FULL COVERAGE: The March on Washington

"Everybody in the room was crying," she recalled. "My grandmother kept saying, 'I wish I had been there,' tears running down her face.... We get a chance to fulfill her dream today."

Crowds began lining up on the National Mall, in the drizzle and under heavy security, hours before President Obama was to speak from where King delivered the "I have a dream speech."

Beth Olsen was at the march half a century ago -- at age 11. "I wanted to come back and see what it was like again," she said.

VOICES: The March on Washington

The crowd was much smaller on Wednesday, said Olsen, now 61, a professor from Maryland.

"I never got this close," she said, standing at the end of the reflecting pool. "I never saw the [Lincoln] Memorial. I saw everybody's legs." 

Olsen, who is white, said the atmosphere on Wednesday was less tense than 50 years ago. "Even as a little kid I noticed I remember as the wall of people were walking down the streets to the mall, there was a young policeman.... I remember seeing his face and he looked scared and then he put his hand on his gun."

Truth Thomas, 54, a writer from  Maryland, was at the anniversary to "honor Dr. King"s legacy" and "witness the hope that hopefully will be reincarnated here today and ... be in the company of a lot of other people who share that hope."


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