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Central Va. Woman Returns to March on Washington 50 Years Later

By: Morgan Donnelly Email
By: Morgan Donnelly Email

August 24, 2013

To know where you are going, you have to know where you came from. 50 years ago, Barbara Lee started her path at the March on Washington.

"That is what we had to do. That is one of the things we fought for, just to vote," says Lee.

Back then growing up in Staunton, things were black or white.

"There was a colored bathroom and a white bathroom. In the colored bathroom we didn't have toilet paper in it, our sinks were dirty. It was totally different from the white bathroom. I never thought I would come to the conclusion that not all white people are bad people," says Lee.

At 15, for the first time she left her home in Staunton, in a bus without air-conditioning, to stand in the heat for days, only to hear the words of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior in Washington D.C.

"That speech was so fulfilling, and every time I hear that speech I hear something different. You hear a word you miss than it is so clear to me why then speech was made and the time it was made," says Lee.

Little did she know then, her career as a civil right leader was just beginning.

"There is still a lot of work to be done, but I hope I am around in five years, because I think it is going to completely change," says Lee.

At 65, she is leaving her home in Stauton, on an air conditioned bus, to stand outside for days, to hear the first African American President speak. Passing off her 50 years of civil rights work to the next generation, to continue for another 50 years.

"It is going to be a day to remember," says Lee.

Much like it was on August 28, 1963.

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