Gathering remembers 'Dream,' seeks fight for justice

2013-08-24T18:30:00Z 2013-08-25T21:43:08Z Gathering remembers 'Dream,' seeks fight for justiceElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. | Merrillville resident Bishop Harvey calmly walked around the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday morning taking in the crowd, signs and taking photos.

The Last time Harvey, 59, marched in Washington, he was 9 years old and had joined a bus full of children from Detroit churches who went to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march is most remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Harvey remembers his feet were sore, the swarm of people surrounding him and not quite understanding the full context of what was happening.

Fifty years later, Harvey loaded a bus from Northwest Indiana with members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from Gary and Michigan City to join the throngs of people who reflected on the historical march.

This time, Harvey wore better walking shoes, brought a camera and had a deeper understanding of the purpose of the march.

"If this helps to bring more attention to neglected issues, it could create solutions," he said. "That's what I'm hoping for."

The group from Northwest Indiana joined other branches of the NAACP, labor unions, historically black sororities and fraternities along with civil rights groups who sat around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool listening to speeches from activists and political leaders.

The day ended with a march toward the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

Wesley Scully, president of the Michigan City NAACP branch, said members of the United Steelworkers 6787 were also among the group who attended. The group loaded the bus Friday night and drove straight to the march. They planned to drive back Saturday night.

Scully said Saturday's march was about unifying people to reflect on problems facing the black community such as education, jobs, high incarceration rates and changes to voting laws. Many groups at the march also wore T-shirts and held signs about the verdict in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

He guided the group as they walked along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

"I've been waiting my whole life to protest," said Kimberly Kiner, as she walked with the group.

Kiner, 33, of Michigan City, walked with a sign that stated "End Mass Incarceration and the New Jim Crow." She said she attended the march to fight for equality.

She said she was glad Saturday's crowd included younger and older people who have been active in the community for decades. Nearby, an elderly woman had stopped two teens to talk to them near the reflecting pool.

"I love this," Kiner said. "She's going to give every single person a lecture. She's telling them 'this is your fight, get involved.'"

Ronald Mosley, 56, of Crown Point, said many Northwest Indiana residents are facing the issues discussed Saturday.

"There's a lot of room for improvement in the job market," he said. "That's why I'm here, I'm here to fight for justice."

Homer Cobb, 67, of Hammond, joined the NAACP branch of Kankakee County who also took a bus to the march. He was in high school when the original march took place but said it wasn't until after that he learned more about the civil rights movement.

"I think it's an awakening period," Cobb said. "I'm glad to see a lot of the youth out especially so the youth can learn that a price was paid to be able to move freely in the country."

Cobb's parents were from Alabama and he remembers they only stopped at certain businesses when they visited family in the south. When he traveled with the U.S. Air Force, he remembers seeing explicit signs for segregation.

Harvey grew up in Detroit and said he became aware at a young age of the boundaries society created because of his race. He spent summers in Griffin, Ga., where he saw segregation first hand and knew there were parts of the town that he couldn't ride his bicycle because of his race.

"They didn't play down there," he said. "You didn't cross certain lines."

He said he thinks the country has come far but still hears some of the attitudes on race that he experienced in Georgia.

"The old crowd has to die out to let the new opinions take hold," he said. "People mimic the older people and their environment. It slows down change."

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