Sneaking out to join in history


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

I am a Berkshire resident who took part in the great March on Washington in 1963. As I think back on it, the power of the principles on non-violence, which MLK had learned from Gandhi, is what gave this March its moral authority and its place in history. Participating gave me a strong conviction in the importance of citizens coming together peacefully and speaking out about injustice.

It was a hot and humid day, but that mattered little as marchers smiled and acknowledged each other as we streamed into D.C. from all over the country. Strangers, we were happy to see each other, all colors and ages. I realized that this family of people united by ideals of equality, was bigger than I'd imagined. I felt a sense of complete safety during the entire march. The kind of feeling that also happens after disasters when we realize our essential interconnectedness and reach out to help each other.

The march was exhilarating, and it was apparent while Martin Luther King was speaking that his speech was historic. There was tremendous synergy between him and the crowd and in response his words took on wings and soared majestically and poetically.

A college student at the time, my challenge was not being on the march, but rather getting there. My parents were liberal in their thinking, but were not activists. They were nervous about potential violence (which the media played up), and forbade me and my 16-year-old sister from going. I tried persuasion and asked the Unitarian minister whose church had chartered a bus to D.C. to speak with her. Mom was unpersuaded. I also had a neighbor and friend of my mother's who was going on the march speak with her. She continued to be fearful.

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So my sister and I snuck out of our house (surely my parents knew!), in the middle of the night, and stayed at the neighbor's house. We left at 5 a.m. the next morning.

When we returned, tired but happy, my parents were relieved we were safe and they were proud of us. They'd watched the peaceful march on the news.

For me, a white girl from Long Island, taking part in the march was one of the most memorable days of my life. In 2009 my husband and I went to Washington again, this time for President Obama's inauguration, grateful to witness a milestone that seemed unattainable in 1963, and which the historic March helped to create.

Experiencing the March on Washington gave me a strong belief that ordinary citizens make a difference when we join together peacefully and speak out. ANI (ANNE) NADLER




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