WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall this past Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Joined by labor leaders, civil rights luminaries and top political officials, it was a chance to commemorate racial progress in America and rally support for more. For many attendees, however, it was also an opportunity to relive a collective, seminal moment that they took part in half a century ago.
Filtered among the masses on Saturday were some of the 250,000 or so people who attended the initial march in 1963. In interviews with The Huffington Post, roughly a dozen of them shared their stories from that day and discussed what it was like to be present at both bookends of history. Their recollections, as well as those of people whose parents attended the initial march, are captured in the video above.
In addition, several attendees at Saturday’s march spoke to Huffington Post reporters off-camera about their memories from 1963. One of those was retired Major General John R. Hawkins, who was 13 years old during the original March on Washington. Against his mother’s instructions, he rode a bike from D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood and climbed a tree alongside the National Mall for a better view.
“I had two of my buddies with me, and we rode our bicycles across the Dulles Bridge from southeast D.C. to here basically because my mother said ‘Don’t,'” Hawkins said. “My mother said, basically, there’s gonna be a riot. ‘Don’t go over there!’ And of course this two-star general said to her, ‘Yes, mom,’ and immediately got on my bike and rode over here.”