March on Washington
August 28, 1963 and August 28, 2013
On August 28, 1963 many of the Turkey-2 group participated in the March
On Washington. Here are some of their stories 50 years later.
March on Washington, 1963
Photo by Kevin McCarthy
The white arrow on the left points to Pat Mitchell
Lowther and Myles Lovelace, the blue one to the right of her to Cindy Wardle
Basile; the blue one on the right points to Nancy Bouse and Marianne Kane
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.
Bartin Kane and I were together that day.
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. I would like other Turkey 2s to
comment on their memories.
We probably were the only P.C. group that were part of that. One never
knows when history involves you and you don't realize what an event it was
Kathy Markley Scruggs,
We probably recall slightly different variations of the event with the
passage of 50 years. I was sure we had learned about the march a day or 2
earlier because we needed to tell our TEFL teachers we would not be in
class. In fact, Sol Rosen was refused "permission" to be absent but I think
he walked anyway. I thought we had walked to the mall with the Georgetown U
group behind their banner but Melissa's probably right about the bus. I can
see Mae Turner leading "We Shall Overcome". It was very hot and very crowded
at the memorial but there was great joy and a feeling of anticipation. We
heard some musical performers. I was next to 2 others in our group and one
started to feel faint. I figured we had to leave and knew that the best
solution would be a slice of pie at Reeves on F St. After the pie we walked
back to the campus and entered Loyola Hall to find others watching a large
TV and there was Martin Luther King, Jr. in the middle of his speech. I tell
folks that I was in the March and heard his speech, all true,--and if I know
them well I clarify that I actually heard the speech on TV.
I can recall less than Kathy or Melissa. I don't remember
going to the march, just being there. It was very hot and crowded and we
couldn't see much as we were so far away. I thought, " Nuts with this. I am
going to take the bus back to Georgetown and watch it on TV". Which I did.
Like Kathy, I tell people I was there and I heard the speech. True! Had I
know it would be one of the great historic speeches of the century I might
50 years ago on Aug. 22, 1963, I was going into my junior year in college
but home for the summer. Peace Corps was in my mind but I knew I wanted to
graduate first. I really wanted to go to the March on Washington but
everyone around me, especially my family, was trying to leave town or stay
home because they feared riots. I told everyone I was going to visit a
friend at the beach which I did, only much later in the day. I got on a bus
in Falls Church and rode down to Arlington Towers near the Lincoln Memorial
Bridge. I walked across the bridge and down along Constitution Ave., and on
every street corner there were soldiers with guns on their shoulders.
Thousands of people were assembling but everyone was dressed like they were
going to church on a Sunday. Ladies had hats and nice dresses, stockings and
heels. Men had white shirts, coats and ties even though it was a hot August
day. Everyone was so helpful and so considerate. Each group was assembling
ready to march to the Lincoln Memorial. I was on my own so I asked a group
of teachers from Prince Edward County if I could join them. Nearby I found
a sign "We march for Integrated Schools Now!"
We moved out on Constitution Ave. and everyone started singing "We shall
Overcome." I just keep moving forward once we got in the range of the
Lincoln Memorial until I could go no further. There was a small fence
separating us from those with special invitations. We sang and shared food
then finally the program began. After many speakers and hymns Dr. King
appeared and his voice carried over the silent crowd with "I have a
dream." I was so moved and so inspired that I just knew I had to get
involved in the civil rights movement. In my senior year I wrote my sr.
thesis on an analysis Gandhi's Siddhartha non-violent teachings, and how
they influenced Dr. King's non-violent movement.
After Peace Corps, I joined the Teacher Corps in West Virginia and started
my first year in a rural school. There were many civil rights protests in
Huntington, W. Va., and on the weekends I became a tester trying to rent an
apartment after a black family had been turned down. I was ready to go on a
freedom ride when on April 28th the horrible news came that Dr. King was
dead. I was in tears. The next day in the rural school they were cheering
and saying he got what he deserved. I immediately went into Huntington and
asked the Teacher Corps office to transfer me to Huntington to an inner city
school. The second year I taught in an almost totally black school. After
Teacher Corps I moved to Washington, DC and taught in an inner city school
for 11 years until my husband took a job in England.
The 1963 March on Washington has had a profound impact on me. I put
together a webpage with my photos at:
I still have my sign and button and plan to go down to the mall and do it
all over again 50 years later.
Post script: I went back to the Lincoln Memorial yesterday for the 50th
anniversary with my sign, photo and badge and ended up getting interviewed
on Fox 5 news.
I was in Washington DC for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on
August 28, 1963. It was a big deal. My recollection consists of images and
feelings, as much if not more than the specifics of the actual march. I do
recall the heat of the day, the images of people who had dressed up with
ties and suits, dresses and high heels as if going to church, the crowd
swaying together while singing a song we had just heard, and the feeling
that I was participating in a very important public showing of unity and
that it was possible to live and work together.
I was walking with the Peace Corps group who was training at Georgetown to
go to Turkey and Iran. As we got closer to the Reflecting Pool, I paired up
with a tall black guy who was training for Iran and we proceeded to about
the middle of the pool half way between the Lincoln Memorial and the
Washington Monument when I saw signs with saying -- Church of the Brethren.
This is the church of which my father was a minister and in which I had been
raised. We went over to talk to them and realized that they had staked out a
position approximately in the middle of the 200,000 people who were there
that day. (Please see the attached pictures from the church magazine.)
We heard the songs and the speeches from loud speakers that were positioned
high in the trees along the Mall (rickety, I'm sure, by today's standards).
Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech, which we heard the first time it
was preached that day, is still quoted far and wide. In my family alone, my
father, Harry K. Zeller, used that speech and that day of marching together
as the basis for a number of his sermons. My brother, Richie Zeller, a
University professor in Ohio, used that speech and my participation in that
march, as the foundation of one of his lectures in sociology.
That day was a great day -- even bearing in mind that events in our lives
can take on a greater meaning the more time passes. It was a great day then.
And I still recall it as having been a great day now.
But, as we look around, we know that here and now -- 50 years later -- there
is still much more that needs to happen -- for fairness and human
interaction and peace.
Tim and Nancy Dial Photos from Peace Corps (T-8)
Recollections of RPCV Christmases in Turkey