Vernon Gray still has the button to show where he was on August 28, 1963. At the age of 19, Gray was in Washington, DC to watch Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Gray left with hundreds of other Philadelphians today to head to the nation’s capital for the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington.
“Being with him, it’s a great feeling,” Gray said, while fighting back tears. It’s memories, it’s history.”
The local residents joined more than 100,000 people from across the country to commemorate the March. Martin Luther King III, who spoke in Philadelphia on Friday, and Reverend Al Sharpton lead the march, which began at 8 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial.
“50 years ago he delivered a sermon on this mountain which crystalized like never before,” said King.
Ted Stevens of Essex County, New Jersey also took part in the day’s events.
“Today is a day of a realization of Dr. King's dream. We have come back again to re-affirm what he was all about,” said Stevens.
Sylvia Lieberman was also there during the first march.
“I love it, it’s great,” Lieberman told NBC10’s Nefertiti Jaquez. “I’m getting the same enthusiasm I had 50 years ago.”
For 74-year-old Mildred Patton it was a bit more emotional.
“We came through a lot. We've come a long way but we have a long way to go. Our men, black men… I'm tired of them looking over their shoulders...wherever they go somebody is looking at them ready to take them to jail,” said Patton.
Ethelind Baylor attended the celebration with her children.
“It’s important for them to know that when I’m long gone, they’re still going to have to fight,” she said. “They’re going to have to be the next generation to come up and fight for everyone else…a fair America for all.”
Just like Baylor many still feel there is a lot more to be done.
“There are still the issues of racial profiling today, there are still the issues of voter ID today,” said Cid Wilson of Burton County.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at another march on August 28. There will be a nationwide bell that will ring to mark the exact time that Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.