Portlanders march 50 years after Dr. King's dream speech

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by KGW reporter Wayne Havrelly

KREM.com

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 6:56 AM

Updated Sunday, Aug 25 at 7:01 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Many in the Portland crowd had goosebumps marching down Naito Parkway to historic songs made famous by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Civil Rights movement 50 years ago.  

While organizers expected a modest crowd Saturday, thousands showed up at  Terry Schrunk Plaza and marched to Portland's South Waterfront to commemorate the march on D.C. that changed so much half-a-century ago.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., tens of thousands marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall paying homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans.

More: Marching for King's dream: 'The task is not done'

"There was a sense we have power and we can fight the injustices and eventually we succeeded with the passage of a voting rights act," said Camillo Marquez in Portland who watched Dr. King give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in person. 

Marquez said while we've made a lot of progress since that time, there's still much more to do. 

"Just look at the recent challenge to the voting rights act, everywhere you turn there are some forces trying to push us back and we are not going back," said Marquez.

Portland attorney Gregory Gruder was in also Washington D.C. for Dr. King's historic speech.  He didn't realize how much that day would impact his life.  He's been fighting for civil rights every since and now he's focused on making a connection with a new generation of civil rights leaders. 

"History is really important and if you don't understand where you've been, you'll never understand where you're going," said Gruder.

"There's so much opportunity now for our generation," said a very thankful Erdina Francillon who is President of Urban League Young Professionals. 

Her dream is more jobs and economic justice for all.  She and her friend Kimberlin Butler told the large crowd gathered in Waterfront Park, "Together we are the future and the future is now!"

 

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