Gainesville youth commemorated this week’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963, but many on Saturday said more civil rights progress needs to be made.
Community members young and old met at Gainesville City Hall Saturday to commemorate the march. The morning began with a presentation of the original and an updated version of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The updated version was written by Jamaal Hill, a member of the University of Florida Black Student Union; it gave a chance for young adults to speak about how the country still needs change 50 years after hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington.
“This momentous address served to invoke inspiration to millions of minorities who have been seared in the flames of withering injustice,” said Julian Kinsey of the African-American Accountability Alliance. “It appeared to be a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their struggle. But fifty years later, the minority American is still not free.”
Community leaders took turns reading portions of Dr. King’s famous speech. The Stonewall Democrats and Hispanic Student Association speakers gave examples of how they continue to feel discrimination by talking about Trayvon Martin and the “stand your ground” law.
UF Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority member Alba Avila explained how all minorities deserve the chance to speak out about what they consider prejudice today.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get the experience that we never got in 1963,” she said. “(The updated) version of the speech, was absolutely incredible. It really touched on our generation in the fact that it had a lot to do with our college and university — stuff that pertains to us.”
Nicholas Carre of the Gator Chapter of the NAACP said remembering the event will help this generation continue to move forward.
“We have to look back and see what our grandfathers and forefathers did for this country in terms of civil rights and rights for all colored people,” Carre said. “And we have to look forward, moving forward, because today is a new day.”
The morning closed with a march to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gardens, where hands were joined in prayer. Another commemorative program will take place in honor of the 1963 march on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the same downtown location.