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Local residents participate in the March on Washington

08/27/2013 10:56 PM

08/29/2013 5:42 AM

Deborah Peoples will be walking the walk today.

Just as others did 50 years ago, today she will join those continuing to seek equality and racial unity.

Together, they will march 1.6 miles through Washington, D.C., ending at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

“This is really a very bittersweet trip, but one I’m truly excited to make,” said Peoples, who heads the Tarrant County Democratic Party. “A lot has happened in 50 years.

“People who came to the March on Washington 50 years ago had to be careful. They didn’t know what their reception would be like. But they came anyway, to change America,” she said. “I [arrived] under much different circumstances. I don’t have the fear, but I have the same determination.”

Myriad marchers are expected to revisit the site of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest political rallies for human rights, which is credited with helping to enact civil- and voting-rights acts.

President Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, will speak at the rally after the march. Other speakers will include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

Marchers from across the country have been pouring into the area this week.

Peoples and family members arrived Monday evening.

She said she brought her 16-year-old stepson, who will be doing extra credit to make up for being out of school, because she wanted him to “understand the historical significance of this event and what it means to his life today.”

On Monday night as the two boarded a bus, a worker there asked if she was taking her son to college. When she told him that she wasn’t and that they were headed to the 50th anniversary of the march, he nodded at her.

He said his father wasn’t too happy about the march 50 years ago, but he seems to have come around through the decades. “He’s OK with that now,” she said he told her.

She said she admired the man’s courage for being able to admit that to her. And she said she could only imagine the “fear and determination” those who marched 50 years ago must have felt, not knowing what reaction their actions might draw.

Today, she and others will continue the march begun decades ago.

And while much progress has been made, Peoples said much work remains to be done.

“This anniversary represents the word vigilance,” she said. “People who want to effect change have to stay vigilant and stay the course.

“There are still things happening today that aren’t making this the America we want it to be,” she said. “We have to stay engaged, volunteer, stay active. These are things we have to do if we are going to make America all we want it to be.”

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