Jamal Sowell’s parents were in high school in the segregated South when the March on Washington in 1963 occurred.
Sowell, 30, grew up hearing stories of his parents only being permitted into certain restaurants and rest stops. Today, he is the assistant to University of Florida President Bernie Machen.
“Young generations may see it in history books but may not realize the setting of the time,” Sowell said. “Thankfully, our country has grown and changed a lot.”
Many people hold the misconception that the March on Washington was strictly an African-American rally for civil rights, Sowell said. In fact, there were multiple sectors of the country marching for jobs and freedom.
While the social issues of 1963 are dramatically different than today, there are still economic and employment problems.
“Now in 2013, everyone is still fighting for jobs and freedom, just in a different manner,” Sowell said.
Economic issues are the most important to focus on because they affect everyone, he said.
“If someone doesn’t have a job or enough money to put food on the table for their family, that tends to be the most important thing,” Sowell said.
History has to be remembered so when there is a struggle, he said, younger generations know how our country overcame that.
Nicholas Carre of the Gator Chapter of the NAACP said remembering the March on Washington will help the country to continue moving 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.”