Local minister and former Chattanooga Councilman John Taylor couldn't round up enough folks to charter a bus to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, but he said he's going anyway because he doesn't want to miss a historic moment.
"If I have to hitchhike or crawl, I'll be there," he said Wednesday.
Taylor will be among a handful of people from Chattanooga traveling to Washington, D.C., for the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march in which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.
In recognition of the march, Taylor will broadcast the entire "I Have a Dream" speech on his WJTT-FM radio show at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Taylor and his wife are traveling in a van with about five other people. Warren Logan, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga CEO, and local NAACP Secretary Eric Atkins also are driving to the event.
As many as 100,000 people are expected to gather at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday. About twice as many people came to the initial event on Aug. 28, 1963. Gatherings are scheduled from Saturday through the actual anniversary date Wednesday.
March organizers, the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and Martin Luther King III, King's oldest son, are calling the event the "National Action to Realize the Dream March." Organizers want to emphasize that "this march is not just a commemoration, but a continuation of the efforts 50 years ago," according to the National Action Network website.
Jobs and the economy, voting rights, workers rights and criminal justice concerns discussed in 1963 are still relevant, said Atkins.
"We're not going for show and fashion," he said.
The goal is to offer a collective voice to tell the federal government about changes that need to happen, he said. Organizers then need to go back home and "hit the ground running" by writing government leaders and making phone calls to congressmen about jobs, education, voting rights and criminal justice, Atkins said.
Taylor said he was only 1 year old at the first march. This march is important because he understands more. He's also going because he had a personal connection with King in that Fred Gray, King's attorney, was friends with Taylor's father and would stay in their home while traveling through the South
And finally, Taylor said, he's going to push for more employment opportunities.
"A lot of African Americans got jobs because of the way King pushed. Then they stopped pushing for the next generation. But we haven't arrived until we all get there," said Taylor, who owns a funeral home and is pastor of East Third Street Church of Christ.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman @timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...