It was a hot Friday, and the last day of my summer internship. I left the office at , saying goodbye to my boss, and walked from
We walked across the
There were chairs set up at the Memorial, but not very many people were around. Josh and I tried to figure if we were allowed to sit anywhere we wanted. It seemed strange that we were allowed to sit so close. We had both finished the water we had brought with us, and Josh went to buy more. I sat in my folding chair, feeling sweat trickle down the backs of my legs, while I watched a little boy and his dad as they studied the cardboard copy of the marker. The man was white, but the little boy had darker skin. He was full of energy, and seemed not to notice the heat.
I remembered a story told by a professor I had worked for at
By the time the ceremony started, I had already finished one of the bottles. There were speeches, most of which I don’t remember. I know John Lewis spoke, and Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Then they played part of the speech. I sat on at the Lincoln Memorial, looking up at icons of the Civil Rights movement, listening to Martin Luther King’s words booming over the loudspeaker. I cried. I wasn’t the only one.
When the ceremony ended, everyone climbed the steps to see the plaque. I am glad I was with Josh. He was more assertive than I was. I started to hang back a bit, but he said “Come on,” and I followed.
We walked up to the plaque and I stared down at it for minute, somehow able to tune out the jostling around me.
I HAVE A DREAM
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
THE MARCH ON
FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM
And I looked down over the Mall, trying to imagine being there when it was as crowded as I had seen it in black-and-white film footage we’d watched in class at
Suddenly, I was shaking hands with John Lewis and listening to Josh speak to him, although I don’t remember what he said. I turned and there was Coretta Scott King. She saw me looking at her, smiled at me, and reached out to shake my hand. A moment later, a photographer—from the AP or the Post, I think, was asking people to move around a bit. He took some pictures of the VIPs, and then one of the little boy I had been watching earlier. I leaned around people, trying to take some snapshots of my own.