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Black History Month: Activist Says March On Washington Reaffirmed Her Commitment To Civil Rights Movement

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As NY1 continues its celebration of Black History Month on NY1, NY1's Shazia Khan sat down with one woman who says her participation in the 1963 March on Washington reaffirmed her commitment to the civil rights movement.

August 28, 1963 was the day of the March on Washington, where jobs and freedom were on the minds of the more than 200,000 who descended on the nation's capital. Among them was a then-23-year-old Harlem native, Lenora Taitt-Magubane.

"That day was a day of hope," Taitt-Magubane said.

Marches, sit-ins and other calls for equality were nothing new for Taitt-Magubane, who, as a college student in Atlanta, was an active member of SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. In 1961, she took part in the freedom rides to end segregation on buses.

Her years of student activism landed her in jail several times, including with Dr. King on one occasion.

Some experiences were more harrowing than others.

"There were 60 of us in a cell for six people," she said.

While she had protested alongside white activists during the freedom rides, the sheer diversity of the March on Washington made an impact.

"People from various walks of life. Economic diversity. You also had a diversity in terms of color," she said. "It's like part of the dream being fulfilled."

Still, just weeks after the poignant and peaceful March on Washington, where the possibility that "character", not "color", could move the nation forward, came news of a church bombing in Birmingham that took the lives of four young black girls.

"After having had that high, and then suddenly, these poor innocent babies go to Sunday school and someone puts a bomb and bombs the church, your faith gets shaken," Taitt-Magubane said. "But then, your faith has to rebound.

Taitt-Magubane went on to get her doctorate in educational administration from Columbia. Now 73 years old, she often speaks about the Civil Rights movement and the country's responsibility to keep the dream alive.

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