When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.was still fighting to make his "dream" a reality, Phillip Hunter, of Bel Air, was one of those who marched with him.
Hunter was the guest speaker Monday, when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Xi Delta Omega chapter, in partnership with the Hosanna School Museum in Darlington, celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King, including the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery in which Hunter participated.
The observance of Dr. King's birth and the 104th anniversary of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.'s founding was made a "Day On, Not a Day Off" for those who attended.
The event was held at the Hosanna School Museum, the first public school for African Americans in Harford County. Admission was a non-perishable food item for a local food bank/soup kitchen.
The highlight of Monday's program was remembering Dr. King's Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala., voting rights march and the events leading up to it through the eyes of Hunter.
Hunter, who came dressed in what he called "the Freedom Fighter uniform," is a native of Selma and was actively involved in the civil rights movement there.
He told the large crowd in attendance of the many incidents in which he, his family and friends participated and the retribution they endured for their involvement during this traumatic time in history.
Hunter said Thursday he enjoyed talking to the group which filled the second floor of the museum.
"It was a good time and a large turnout, a lot of young folks and a lot of seniors interested to hear the story," added Hunter, who said he has talked about his experiences on a few different past occasions.
Hunter participated in all three voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery. He was jailed for more than three weeks at Camp Thomas for participating in a voting rights march.
The first march became known as "Bloody Sunday" because marchers were pummeled by club-swinging Alabama state troopers on Sunday, March 7, 1965. About 600 marchers participated, led by John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Rev. Hosea Williams. Lewis is now a U.S. congressman from Georgia.
Two days later, Dr. King led about four times as many people to the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma, but the marchers, who were subject to a federal restraining order not to march, prayed and then turned back at King's request. A federal judge later ruled the state of Alabama would violate the marchers' constitutional rights if it prevented them from marching.
A week later, with the restraining order lifted and federal protection pledged for the marchers, Dr. King led 300 marchers on the 50-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, arriving in the state capital eight days later on March 24, 1965. The next day, some 25,000 people followed him to the capitol building for speeches, prayers and song.
During Monday's program at Hosanna, those in attendance praised the efforts of Hunter and many others who brought about historical and irreversible changes in Selma, the nation and the world.
"Time waits on no one, but it doesn't seem like it's been that long ago," he said Thursday.
Hunter is a retired attorney, residing in Bel Air with his wife, Yvonne. He is a member of Ames United Methodist Church in Bel Air and the Aberdeen Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times