At the time of the March on Washington, I worked for the Internal Revenue Service and my office overlooked Constitution Avenue. I remember the buzz that started when the first wave of civil rights organizations moved down the avenue toward the Lincoln Memorial, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph and other leaders of the movement.
Caught up in the moment, employees of the federal agencies along the route spontaneously left their offices and joined the march to show solidarity for its demands. As the crowd swelled, it was evident that this was a historic moment. As we entered the Mall, we heard the vibrant voices of Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson echo from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.
King’s immortal, prophetic words will always burn in my mind: “When we let freedom ring in every village and every hamlet . . . we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last!Great God Almighty, we are free at last.’ ”
Milton Cerny, Midlothian, Va.