Alabamians reflect on the 'I Have a Dream' speech 50th anniversary

Raw: Myrna Carter Jackson recalls 'I Have a Dream' speech
Myrna Jackson speaks to Mike Dubberly about the effects of the movement on her life. Source: WBRC video
Myrna Jackson speaks to Mike Dubberly about the effects of the movement on her life. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Over the last several days, our nation's capital has seen a series of events observing the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for racial equalit.

The highlight of that civil rights demonstration was the famous speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Much of the planning for the march was organized at meetings right here in Alabama. And for those who took part in the process and had weathered earlier demonstrations, there was a sense of pride to see it come to fruition.

James Smith and Robert Avery hitchhiked their way to Washington, D.C. from Gadsden.

"Once [Dr. King] stood up, you could hear crickets...drinking in his words," Smith said.

Just 12 hours prior to the speech, King wasn't sure what he was going to say. Preparation for the speech had taken a back seat to planning the march. So, many elements of his "I Have a Dream" speech came from others he had given before. But this time the words resonated across the country on TV and radio.

"I had heard those words before. I was excited he was saying them in front of all those people," Catherine Burks-Brooks said.

Back in Birmingham, teenagers like Myrna Jackson and Janice Kelsey could hear hope in those words.

"The speech was important because it opened the eyes of so many people," Jackson said. "This was an opportunity to show we are quite similar."

The speech did draw criticism from some black leaders like Malcolm X, who said it compromised too much. But Dr. Calvin Woods says it struck just the right balance.

Many FOX6 spoke to say the full dream is not yet fulfilled, but seeing parts of King's vision become reality offers them a sense of pride.

"I meet people all over the world and invariable they tell me the impact of the speech on their life," Dr. Bernice King, King's daughter, said.

After his speech, King was named Man of the Year 1963 and 1964 by "Time" magazine and was the youngest person awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.