Charleston man reflects on King's speech, march as Burke senior

By Ava

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) Just like it was yesterday, Rev. Thomas Nesbitt Jr. recalls how he was leaving Boy Scout camp when his grandfather asked him to go to the march on Washington.

"I said, 'Yes I'm willing to go,'" said Nesbitt. {}

Nesbitt was going to represent his church, Morris Brown AME in downtown Charleston, then report back to the congregation on Sunday on what he witnessed.

"It was not like I was unaware of what I was getting into. I knew exactly what I was getting into maybe didn't have a great appreciation for it, at 17 years old but a great anticipation for it," said Nesbitt.

Nesbitt says he was very aware of the fight for civil rights being lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I was a part of that generation that experienced the more overt part of racism. I had applied for jobs and I was turned down because I was black and I knew it," said Nesbitt.

The documentation of Nesbitt and hundreds of other Charlestonians leaving for the march is now part of the archive collection at the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston. Nesbitt says he doesn't need to look at old papers to bring back memories of being 200 yards from Dr. King on the left side of the reflection pool.

"You could feel the atmosphere charged with electricity, you could feel the quietness of the crowd despite the fact that it was a quarter of a million people there, but as a 17-year-old taken in by that moment the only thing I could feel was that this is like a sermon. This is history being made," said Nesbitt. {}

Nesbitt said he didn't take any pictures that day, but he did take a copy of the program. That is now being held in the Avery Center archives.

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