Killeen resident Bertha Holmes was 5 when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.
Fifty years later, she said she is still amazed by the impact of King’s words. Last weekend, she ventured with other Killeen and Texas NAACP members on a three-day journey to Washington, D.C., to take part in the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington.
“I saw all kinds of people from all kinds of races, ethnicities and different cultures, and that is something Martin Luther King strived for,” she said.
“We talked about our dream, and the dream came true, and it’s still coming true, but we have a long way to go because racism still exists.”
Yannis Banks, legislative liaison for the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, also went to Washington last weekend.
“It was historic,” he said. “It was about the 50-year celebration and recognition of the march and also realizing that while we may have made gains, we’re not where we’re supposed to be.”
Around 50 members from Texas made the free trip to Washington, four of whom were present at the original March in 1963.
The experience was unforgettable, Banks said.
“Just seeing them there reliving that, and seeing some of the young kids hear the speeches, I loved it.”
Banks said the Civil Rights Movement has not been lost on today’s youth.
“I think they’re getting it and it’s resonating a little bit more,” he said. “Now they’re about two or three generations removed from the march so they may not have a full idea of it but they have a grasp and somewhat of an understanding.”
On Saturday, the group joined the rally, marching from the National Mall to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.
Holmes fought back tears as she spoke of King’s legacy and what being a part of that meant to her.
“I was so moved when I thought about what this man did when he came through from Mississippi and what he did for me. I couldn’t have all of these opportunities without him,” she said.