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Agawam Woman Reflects on March on Washington 50 Years Later

PKG_ LOCAL MARCH ANNIV.tranAGAWAM, Mass. (WGGB) — As an 18-year-old active member of the local NAACP, Joyce Davis and a friend wanted to go to the March on Washington, against her parent’s wishes.

Like most teens they defied them.

“We cooked up a little scheme where we said we were going to spend the night at each other’s houses and we went and got on the bus and took off, and we really didn’t plan what we were going to eat, we didn’t have any fear,” Davis said.

That’s not something they would have to worry about. According to Davis a little known fact about the march is that many folks in dc opened up their homes, offering cheese sandwiches, water, and restrooms on that humid day 50 years ago.  “One of the things that really impressed us was we got to hear Merlie Evers speak. She was the only woman who spoke. Of course we were waiting for Dr. King. When he came on, we were just awestruck,” she remembered.

“You know, we listened intently. It was a speech of possibilities. It was the first really positive speech of possibilities that we had heard. Dr. King expressed his dream about possibilities. We had been through so much. Just so much horror and things didn’t seem to be changing, so I think that this was it. Something has to be done,” Davis stated.

Seeing President Obama speak in the same spot that Dr. King spoke 50 years to the day he shared his dream, means things have come full circle for Davis…

Yet as the historic day came to an end, there was still one more obstacle to overcome—explaining the lie to their parents.  “Big time! We got caught up in it. We told them everything, they said, ‘who was with you? what grownups were there?’ We were 18. We thought we were the grown-ups!” laughed Davis.

Davis looks forward to the strides the next generation will make.

She adds that if Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were around back then, she thinks the attendance would have been double what it was, although she says at the time,  It would have been hard to find people who weren’t aware of the march.


  • alpinequeen

    And I remember seeing Dion and the Belmonts and the Kingsmen at Mountain Park.