Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.”
In the pre-dawn hours of August 28, 1963, a bus pulled out of New York City with my mother as the organizer. Aside from her professional acumen, Gloria was a bad-ass feminist and adventurer. During the Civil Rights Movement she was energized to find ways to protest and take a stand for justice. Born in 1929 into some of the worst years of Jim Crow racism and the lack of rights for women, she was motivated to support the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the Movement.
Gloria had gone around to her coworkers at the AAFES headquarters in New York and encouraged enough of them to join her by paying for a seat on the bus and standing out in the hot August sun on the Washington Mall to rally with the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people who heard Dr. King deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that day.
“Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children,” Dr. King told the crowd. “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality –1963 is not an end but a beginning.”
That day was one of the a highlights of my mother’s life as she told me that story over and over throughout her years — how they marched, sang songs, cheered and hugged strangers of different races, people they didn’t even know, but with whom they found kinship in this moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
They went home motivated to make a difference in small ways in their own spaces of life.