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Margaret Pearson, 71, immigrated from the U.K. two months after the '63 March in Washington. She joined the crowd today. (NPR)

50 Years Later: Sounds And Voices From The March

by Eyder Peralta
Aug 28, 2013

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It was a cloudy and rainy day in Washington on Wednesday. But that did not keep thousands from descending on the National Mall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

There were long lines to get onto the Mall, and security was tight. The attendees seemed to skew much older than the march that was held on the Mall on Saturday, whose speakers were more pointed and polemic. (On Wednesday, there were noticeably far fewer people holding protest signs.) Gospel singers like Bebe Winans and Shirley Caesar performed in between speakers, which occasionally gave the proceedings the feel of a church service.

President Obama, the country's first black commander-in-chief, delivered a sober speech from the same steps where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have A Dream Speech," 50 years earlier.

The speakers remembered the sacrifices of the civil rights movements and they also remembered the triumph.

To give you an idea of what it was like, we've cobbled together some voices and sounds from the march.

— Daisy Morgan, from Marianna, Fla., says the civil rights movement has directly affected her life:

— Anna Frame, from Alexandria, Va., says Wednesday was a day for reflection:

— Darlene Adams, from Washington, D.C., said she wanted to be part of history, unfortunately, she did not make it into the event:

— Margaret Pearson, 71 and from the U.K., moved to the U.S. after the landmark Civil Rights Act, but she thinks it's important to remember:

— At 3 p.m. ET., some 300 sites across the country rang their bells to symbolically answer the call of King's "let freedom ring." The bell tower at the National Cathedral in Washington played "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

— Back in 1960, King preached at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Today, some leaders, including King's daughter, Bernice, gathered for an interfaith service. The congregation sang Our Country 'Tis Of Thee:

Audio came from NPR's Allison Keyes, Sami Yenigun and Tanya Ballard Brown. The bells came from the Associated Press. NPR's Gene Demby contributed to the report.

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