St. Louisans head to D.C. for Civil Rights March Anniversary

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(KTVI) --Billie Morrison was 14 and standing in the National Mall in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.  That is when she heard the Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King say these words:

“I have a dream that one day; this nation will rise up live out the true meaning of its creed.”

The power of this speech escaped her.

“I didn’t know until halfway through the trip how important it was,” she said.  “At the time, it was a great adventure for me.  I just knew I was going somewhere with my mother.”

Friday morning, and 50 years later, she watched another generation of kids, leave from Jennings, Missouri to march on Washington yet again.

“I never thought I would be able to go on a trip like this,” said 12-year-old Tyler Tolliver as he waited in the pre-dawn darkness for the bus.  “And to witness and to do something like what Martin Luther King had done years ago, I just couldn’t wait to go.”

“I want to walk around and see the Martin Luther King experience, and learn more from him,” said one little girl, also waiting for the bus.

“I think my teachers did a great job of covering everything,” 11-year-old Grace Rogers said she is waiting on a lesson she can only learn on this trip.  “I’m there.  So, it will be different and it will feel different than learning it in the classroom.”

Taking pictures this time around will be different, too.

“My mother had an old-fashioned Polaroid,” Morrison said.  “And, you just couldn’t lug it around.”

The cellphones and tablets were capturing every mile of the trip before it began.  One little girl said she had big, and long-term, plans for her pics.

“Not just so my parents can see them, but so that I can see them, and not forget.”

She could also post her reminders to the internet, almost immediately.

"It's going to be preserved.  You know once you put it out there on the internet, it's there for your ancestors to find if they know how to look for it,” Morrison pointed out.  I wish we had that back then.  All I can do is tell you.  I can’t show you.”

But little Madison Rogers was ready to tell her 3-year-old sister about the trip the toddler would take, but probably not remember.

“’It’s something very important you should learn a lot,’” she would say.  “’Even if you don’t remember it.’”

In August 1963, about 250,000 marched in Washington, D.C.   The march helped the eventual signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

There will be commemoration events in St. Louis.  In Kiener Plaza, there will be a recitation of the "I Have A Dream" speech. That will start at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Then, there will be a march to Christ Church Cathedral at 10:45 a.m.  Then, a special program begins inside the Cathedral at 11 a.m.

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