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March On Washington At 50: Brother, Sister Say March Sparked Their Careers As Activists

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A brother and sister who boarded a bus bound for the March on Washington 50 years ago still have fond memories of their trip, and they say the historic event sparked their careers as activists. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.

Eugene Jordan and Grace Jones will never forget boarding a bus in front of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church in the wee hours of the morning on August 28, 1963. She was 35 back then, and she invited her 16-year-old brother to join her for a trip like no other.

"We sang from the time we crossed the George Washington Bridge until we hit the mall," Jordan said. "Every spiritual you could imagine, and when we ran out of spirituals, we went to 'Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.' But we did not stop singing until we got to DC."

"It was an excitement beginning to build, a joy," Jones said. "We were going to make a difference in the future."

The siblings were so moved by the political rally that they kept the original ticket, the songbook and the program from the march.

Hearing Dr. King's speech sparked a career in activism for Eugene Jordan, who is the current president of The Guardians Association of The New York State Courts.

"I watched my peers on television down South being flushed up against the wall by fire hoses, bitten by dogs, and it was one of the opportunities I had to actually participate in the movement," he said. "Some people say, 'Oh, why don't you retire?' I can't retire when there's work to be done."

Jones, who is in her mid-80s, is not slowing down either. She's been an active member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church since 1937, and she says she enjoys sharing her experience at the march with young people today.

"I just wanted to be there. I wanted to know that one day, I would tell my grandchildren about the wonderful event and what grandma went through," she said. "What's the slogan, 'We shall overcome?' Well, I'm still saying it. We shall overcome."

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