St. Joseph Natives Remember March on Washington

Published 01/15 2014 10:40PM

Updated 01/16 2014 12:37PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It was 50 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Rev. Dr. Bill Hedge was just 11 years old at the time. His mother planned to join a few others from St. Joseph to participate in the March on Washington.  But, a few nights before she planned to head out, two men from the FBI knocked on Rev. Hedge's door and questioned his mom about the trip.

"You know, we were just kind of taken back because we knew our mother was loving, caring, compassionate," said Rev. Hedge.

Rev. Hedge spoke more about his mom's experience, during the march, in a full-length film put together by the Black Archives Museum of the St. Joseph Museums.

"Just the masses of people," he remembered. "If you look at the old pictures they have, just to be in the crowd. Can you imagine the electrical charge that was there? The feeling that they had."

Richard Lewin was one of the people in that crowd.

"To hear Martin Luther King deliver that speech, and feel the crowd just breathing," said Lewin.

Lewin is also featured in the film.

Although he didn't have the same struggles Rev. Hedge did, he understood the fight and wanted to see a change.

"Blacks were pretty invisible to white children growing up. They didn't work in our schools, they lived in different neighborhoods," said Lewin.

"When I grew up, you couldn't live past 22nd [Street], not past Noyes Blvd., and not south of Mitchell," added Hedge.

That wasn't something that sat right with Lewin.

So, he got on a bus, headed to Washington D.C., and marched with millions of others for equality.

"It's a humbling experience," said Lewin.

Fifty years later, Lewin and Rev. Hedge said there are still changes that need to be made.

However, they hold their memories from the March on Washington close to their hearts.

"Now, we get to celebrate Dr. King's birthday," said Rev. Hedge.

Within the next two weeks, copies of the film will be available at all St. Joseph School District libraries, local libraries, Missouri Western's library, and at the Black Archives Museum.

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