Retired Pastor Remembers Dr. King and March on Washington

By: David Coy Email
By: David Coy Email

HARRISONBURG -- Many people in the Valley will be honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the man who lead it.

People will gather in Court Square in Harrisonburg next Wednesday night to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One man planning to speak at the event went to seminary with Dr. King and marched with him.

Fred Gibson is a retired pastor and was one of many who marched on Washington 50 years ago. He went to the same seminary as Dr. King.

"He indicated it was not going to be easy. He said, 'I'm not responsible for how people treat me. I'm responsible for how I treat them,'" said Gibson.

Gibson said there was another side to Dr. King. He says King wasn't always the stern preacher.

"In fact you kind of always had to watch your back around him because he was a very mischievous young man," said Gibson.

Years later Gibson became a pastor at a church in Brooklyn and was on one of the committees organizing the March on Washington. He helped load six trains of people to go to D.C.

"It was really wonderful when we got there, we forgot what denomination we were from, and we were a body of people that made up our minds that we are going to attract the attention of the world," said Gibson.

On August 28, Gibson will speak at the 50th anniversary celebration in Harrisonburg.

"I believe Mr. Gibson can give a great insight on how Dr. King really was and the things that he did and what he believed in," said Organizer Karen Thomas.

Gibson said he has fond memories of that march 50 years ago, saying the crowd was very active during Dr. King's speech.

"We interrupted him often just by breaking into song, we shall over come and all the other things. I don't think it bothered him too much because he needed to catch his breath and have the next thought," said Gibson.

The ceremony will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday. They plan to march around Court Square and read parts of Dr. King's 'I have a dream' speech.

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