1963 March on Washington: A Peace Corps Memory
By Erica Burman on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Today in Washington, D.C., thousands are gathering to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. We recently heard from Melissa Meacham Stewart, a member of the second group of Peace Corps Volunteers headed to Turkey; her group was in Washington on that day 50 years ago. She shared this remembrance:
50 years ago many of the Turkey-2 group participated in the March On Washington.
Turkey 2′s were training at Georgetown in the summer of 1963. Since we were not listening to the news we were not aware of what was happening. Someone came in at breakfast time and told us that there was a march for equality going on in downtown Washington. The food service packed lunches for those of us who wanted to go. We rode the bus downtown and when we got off we were in an area where there were many buses parking, arriving from all over (some people had been on the bus for several days). People were very peacefully coming out of the doors and joining the throng singing “We Shall Overcome.” We joined the crowd and moved slowly and peacefully up to the Mall. We could see M.L. King as we were in the front section – but he looked about 6 inches tall. It is an experience that stays with me. At the time I did not realize what a big event this would be in history.
We probably were the only Peace Corps group that was part of that. One never knows when history involves you, and you don’t realize what an event it was until later.
Were you in Washington 50 years ago today? Were you in the Peace Corps and if so, what did you hear about this day?