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Southern Students Head to 50th Anniversary March on Washington Celebrations


Next Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on the Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

In 1963 hundreds of thousands rallied in the National Mall in DC for civil and economic rights for African Americans.  That rally is also where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his historic speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.


A group of students from three Southern University system campuses left early Friday morning for DC where March on Washington anniversary celebrations are taking place this weekend and into next week. The group is made up of people from the Souther University campuses in New Orleans, Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

Simone Bray is a senior at Southern’s Baton Rouge Campus and one of the trip organizers. Bray said she hopes the 20-hour bus trip will allow for all the students to bond and come up with questions and ideas to bring to the table in Washington, DC.

Bray said it means a lot that she gets to go on the trip, especially since her mother got to experience the original March on Washington five decades ago.  

"I heard a lot about this 50th anniversary coming up and I never thought I would have the experience to be there," said Bray. "I thought I would just have to see the pictures and videos just like everybody else but the fact that I get to stand there, it’s going to be like passing on the tradition of being there to my sons and my daughters, as well as my grandchildren."

She says she expects the trip to enlighten her and her fellow students on what Martin Luther King Jr. actually meant in his speech, as well as help her better understand how far the Civil Rights Movement has come, where it is now and where it's going.

"I want to take away a new presence that I can bring to Southern University, kind of re-motivate all of our students to understand that although we have no reached equality there are things we can do to further that progression," said Bray.

Bray says, even though the Civil Rights Movement has come a long way, she thinks younger people have started to lose faith and they need to get that back.

"It’s kind of like coloring a picture," said Bray. "We’ve colored most of the picture but there’s still vitally important parts that are left blank that need to be filled in so we can have perfect quality."

She says showing up in Washington DC this weekend will send a strong message to the rest of the country.

"I believe it shows them that we are not okay where we are, and we’re still ready to push forward," said Bray.

Copyright 2021 WRKF. To see more, visit WRKF.

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.

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