Local civil rights leader reflects on March on Washington - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Local civil rights leader reflects about 'March on Washington' 50th anniversary


It has been fifty years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led hundreds of thousands of people in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. Thousands of people in Washington D.C. will be commemorating the 50th anniversary this weekend. In the Ark-La-Tex, people who were alive during that time are reflecting like civil rights Shreveport Pastor C. E. McLain, who vividly remembers the march a half century ago. 

For much of his life, Pastor McLain has not only been a witness civil rights movement, but he's part of it. He was 13 years old when his parents took him to hear Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. preach in New York. "I got to meet him, a very personable unforgettable meeting, his nickname was tweed because he was a very snazzy dresser," McLain explained.
McLain had the opportunity to meet him again in 1962, when his father hosted Dr. King in Shreveport, where the civil rights leader led a march on Texas Avenue. Just one year later, McLain helped organize a trip to march in Washington, D.C. with a group of students from Southern University, but at his protective father's urging, he instead watched the march on TV. 

"I knew that when I turned on the television and saw Walter Cronkite was anchoring the coverage live, it was an important and historic event," McLain remembered.
McLain watched with a group of fellow students who were mesmerized by Dr. King's "I have a dream speech" and some historians say he tested parts of that speech out in Shreveport. "I could recall his oratory, his word power, nothing like I've heard before since," said McLain. 
Now a half century later, McLain believes there is significant progress breaking down race barriers, but admits more work needs to be done. He says the solution starts with communication and suggests there has to be a dialogue that someone has to initiate. 



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