The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, gestures during his "I Have a Dream" speech as he addresses thousands of civil rights supporters gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963. Actor-singer Sammy Davis Jr. can be seen at extreme right, bottom. (AP Photo)
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had an impact on people of every walk of life, including athletes. WUSA 9's Diane Roberts got a view of the civil rights leader from the people who occupy the Nationals Clubhouse.
By now you know it's been 50 years to the day since King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Washington Nationals players and some fo the coaches weren't even born then, but they know about the struggles that made the speech necessary.
Ryan Zimmerman told us, "It's hard for me to believe that this country used to be like that... we've come such a long ways and obviously, no country is going to be free of anything like that unfortunately, but it all started with that.. well, it didn't start with that, but that was a huge step in the movement for civil rights and it's a huge part of this country."
First base coach Tony Tarasco shared, "The speech itself was fantastic and an extremely motivating speech. He did such a good job of putting things into perspective... really trying to bring home the struggles into everybody's household, being able to appeal to those who didn't really know how to express that side of them."
Denard Spann added, "You talk about him, you talk about Jackie Robinson and a lot of Negro League baseball players, things they had to go through, to sacrifice in order for us, myself and so many others, to get the opportunites we're getting... we owe them, you know, owe them the world."
Clearly, that connection between baseball and the civil rights movement is not lost on those who play the game. The Nationals are happy to be playing at home during all of the 50th anniversary activities.
WRITTEN BY DIANE ROBERTS