Activists March on Washington as they did 50 years ago

12:32 PM, Aug 25, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Activists united to change the country, still as they did 50 years ago. 

It was an awful year with the murders, the assassinations, the sit-ins, the fire hoses, all of the things that were going on with that one moment of hope that we could have change. 

Joan Mulholland risked her life on death row for that change at 19 leaving Duke University to join the freedom riders and took part in the first sit-in at a woolworth lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi.

She sat down so others could stand up. 

"I could see the hypocrisy in what we said in church and what we were doing and as southerner robert E. Lee's home girl, I felt I had to do what I could when i had the chance to make the south the best that it could be," Mulholland said. 

Security has certainly changed a lot in the last 50 years. We don't see the same crowds gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial like we did for the first March on Washington but those in attendance say the spirit remains the same.

"I remember looking around and thinking, this is my hometown and I have no idea where I am because there were so many people," Lee Adams said. 

Adams stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands back in 1963 but the 16-year-old almost didn't make it. 

"My mother said no, no, no I think there's going to be trouble. She was afraid. My father said, 'Well, you can't go without a chaperon. So, you know, that's it.' And we said, 'Why can't you take us?"

Adams said her father was one of the first ten black colonels in the U.S. Army and was given orders not to go. 

"So the next morning, we woke up and we were really upset but we didn't say anything," she said. "We came down to breakfast in our PJs and he said 'You're wearing your pajamas to the March on Washington?'"

She added, "He was there in his seersucker suit. I'll never forget. He wasn't in uniform and he said, 'There's a conscience bigger than the U.S. Army and I'm going to follow it.'"

And as these warrior women continue their 50- year fight for change and hope they look to the future generations and the next 50 years. 

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