Fifty years ago this month, nearly a quarter of a million people marched on Washington for jobs and freedom, including one Brooklyn woman who found herself, quite accidentally, at the front row of history. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
A half century ago, organist Yolanda Clarke got a coveted invitation to perform at a political rally in Washington D.C.
The 88-year-old musician from Crown Heights had no idea how historic the event would be.
"It was a wonderful experience being so close to Dr. Martin Luther King," Clarke said. "I'll never forget it."
After playing "Reach out and Touch" for a group of singers, Clarke tried to make her way back to her seat, but got stuck near the front of the stage and couldn't move.
When Dr. King approached the podium, she was just a few feet away from him.
"I didn't really realize how important it was, although I felt a deep sense of emotion," Clarke said.
With the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington approaching, Clarke says she is still moved by the enormous turnout for the event.
"I thought that I would have never lived to see so many people coming from so many different areas of America and from around the world," Clarke said.
Her close proximity to Dr. King has made her a celebrity in many circles. Internationally acclaimed baritone Lawrence Craig, for example, calls Clarke a national treasure.