HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - President Obama was one of many speakers who stood on the same spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the world he had a dream. Thousands gathered at the National Mall to listen to the President commemorate that speech Wednesday, but one Hampton man was among those at the first March on Washington 50 years ago.
Frank Edgecombe is the Director of University Libraries at Hampton University. In 1963, he was an immigrant from Great Britain, seeing the world through a different lens. He was taken in by a predominantly African American congregation in New York.
He talked to WAVY.com about the day he and that congregation headed to the nation’s capital in awe of the moment in history they were living first hand.
“We decided to go to the March on Washington,” said Edgecombe. “ We rented two buses. As we came in to Washington, it was just amazing. The whole highway was just full of buses. The response was just unreal.”
He says he saw people from different cities, all different walks of life, unsure of the reception they'd receive as they marched toward the National Mall.
“We took over the whole mall from the Lincoln monument to the Washington monument,” recalled Edgecombe.
He remembers everyone being in high spirits and says one speech after another about jobs and freedom lifted them to a new level, especially one that we've come to know well.
“Eventually it came to the culminating moment of the Martin Luther King speech,” said Edgecombe. “This rousing speech was almost as if he were in a pulpit in a church.”
They knew in that moment that change would come, but he admits they couldn’t imagine the impact the March on Washington would have on history the way it has 50 years later.
“We didn't know when. We didn't know what, but we knew something would have to come out of it," Edgecombe said.
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