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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

Philip Stone, 66, New York

Then: Teenage hitchhiker

Now: Manhattan criminal defense attorney

As soon as Philip Stone heard about The March on Washington, he knew the event would be important and informed his parents he would be hitchhiking down to the nation's capital. The March served as the first time he had ever seen large numbers of blacks and whites together, an unusual sight for the New York native.

"There was de facto segregation everywhere," says Stone, who is white and was living in the Bronx at the time. He understood his life experiences were different from the struggles of black Americans.

"I was privileged to be there. Even I knew that at 16."

There alone, he joined various gatherings and parties and waded through the masses of people trying to absorb every moment.

"There was just this feeling running through the crowd like, 'Here we are. There are a lot of us.' I thought it was world-changing. I thought 'After this, everything has got to get better.' "

Following The March, Stone became active in civil rights, participating in demonstrations and boycotts, and eventually made civil rights the focal point of his legal career.

"I've been a criminal defense attorney for more than 30 years and I still fight daily to retain basic civil liberties for people."

Tamara Lytle is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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