March anniversary a chance to honor civil rights pioneers

WASHINGTON -- For many people at the National Mall on Wednesday, it was an opportunity to honor family members who had fought in the civil rights movement.

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, Jesse N. Holmes, a local Washington resident, wore a cardboard sign with a picture of his father, John, at the 1963 march that appeared in Ebony magazine.

Though Holmes was only 6 and did not attend the original event, he said he vividly remembers his father stepping out the door in a light blue suit and then immediately turning back to make sure his mother didn’t want to join.

Holmes said his father was a cartographer at the U.S. Geological Survey who helped map Antarctica, but he was often passed over for promotions because he was black. His father’s subsequent community activism and the pride he felt at having marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired Holmes.


VOICES: The March on Washington

“I feel compelled to continue the work that he was about,” Holmes said. “It was important to him, so I thought I would bring him back in some sort of way.”

Rebecca Dickey recalled growing up in Greene County, Virginia, where schools were still segregated in the 1960s and African American students had to be bused to a nearby district for high school.

She said her family discovered only four years ago that her parents, James and Lucille Buckner, who had less than a middle school education, had sued the board of supervisors to integrate the local high school. Her two older brothers were among the first four black students to attend.

“We are at the age where we can appreciate what others fought for us,” Dickey said. “I was just so excited to take off work” and remember their achievement.


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