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AARP Bulletin

March on Washington — Then and Now

50 years ago, Americans rallied for civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a dream and six marchers return to the nation's capital to reflect

Rowland Scherman, 76, Orleans, Mass.

Then: Freelance photographer

Now: Veteran photographer whose work has appeared in Life, Look, Time, National Geographic, Paris Match and Playboy

When 26-year-old Rowland Scherman asked to cover The March for the United States Information Agency, he had no idea that he would have such access to history.

As an official March photographer, he was able to get close to the famous — including Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Jackie Robinson — and had a bird's-eye view of Martin Luther King Jr. during his historic speech. To get a better view, he climbed a ladder near the Lincoln Memorial and captured panoramas of thousands of attendees on the Mall.

"No one in America had ever seen a crowd like that before. It was awe-inspiring."

He also photographed a 12-year-old girl who seemed to be absorbing King's words with a particular intensity. Scherman believes her expression conveyed thoughts about the state of the country at the time and the direction it was headed.

The photograph, which would become emblematic of The March, appeared in textbooks, brochures and was cataloged in the National Archives. He didn't get the name of the little girl that day but was able to meet her 50 years later.

"Edith Lee-Payne is still beautiful," he says.

— Reported by Amanda Lucidon

Next page: Philip Stone. »

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