It was 60 years ago that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. uttered his remarkable “I Have a Dream” speech, sharing the hopes he had for his “four little children” to live in a more just and equitable nation.
The youngest of the four, Bernice King, 60, was only 5 months old when more than 250,000 people flooded the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest gathering for civil rights of its time.
She was too young to remember the event itself, but “the most memorable thing I heard about that particular mass demonstration,” King tells AARP, “ … is that they were kind of apprehensive about whether or not people would show up.” She says her mother, Coretta Scott King — whom she calls “the architect of the King legacy” — shared that they were anticipating around 25,000 people at the peaceful protest.
In Their Words: Participants Look Back on the March on Washington
Bernice King is CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, or the King Center, which was established by her mother in 1968, the year her father was assassinated.
King carries the legacy of nonviolence and that sense of purpose and mission demonstrated in the March on Washington through her work at the King Center. The center offers education, training, research and advocacy based on the philosophy of nonviolence with the goal of bringing about social change, just as its practice did 60 years ago.
“People don’t realize that a lot of the things that we are benefitting from today is a result of that massive march and demonstration, which was a part of a greater strategy,” King says.