Charlottean reflects on time in inner circle of March on Washington

Charlottean reflects on time in inner circle of March on Washington

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by GLENN COUNTS / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @GCountsWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 5:40 PM

WASHINGTON -- We were all witnesses to history when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech”, but few were as close to that history as Charlotte attorney Charles Jones.

"I looked out and thousands and thousands and thousands of people had filled the Mall," said Jones.

Jones was a civil rights activist who organized integrated bus rides in the South, lunch counter sit-ins and other activities.

"They came from all over the country, and to walk down the Mall, previously reserved for the Lincoln's and all, but this was an ‘us’ moment," he said.

Jones was in that inner circle for the ‘63 March on Washington, and he remembers how the leaders of the movement were taken aback by the crowd.

"Martin was wrestling with what he was going to say, John Lewis was wrestling with what he was going to say; none of us had a historical context of what you do and say."

Jones says it was a woman who provided the inspiration, “Mahalia Jackson said, ‘Martin, talk about the dream’, and they said Martin, at that point, exhaled."

The attorney says when King began to speak about his children he knew that day would never be forgotten.

"I knew Martin and my sprit well enough to know he was about to bring it, and I began to go, ‘Oh my God, yes.’"

He worked with King on voter registration drives in Albany, Georgia, and gets emotional when he thinks about the passage of the voting rights act.

"If I got a tear in my right or left eye, let it be," he said.

He's disappointed by recent changes in North Carolina voting regulations. Jones looks forward to President Obama's speech on Wednesday and the progress it signifies.

"Not only will I feel vindicated, but as my Grandma used to say, ‘Boy, we ain't where we’re going, but thank God we ain't where we've been.’"

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