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50th anniversary of King speech to be marked

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, June Townes and Gospera sing a musical selection in front of a small turnout at Roosevelt Public Library. (Aug. 10, 2013) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Phyllis Hyde, 81, of Uniondale, remembers the electricity.

It surged through the throngs who walked with and listened to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington in August 1963.

"It was satisfying on many, many levels . . . I was very happy to see how many people came together. People from all walks of life," she said.

Hyde reflected Saturday on the country's civil rights progress 50 years later and ways African-American youth can continue the legacy.

She was one of more than 50 people who gathered at the Roosevelt Public Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech on Aug. 28.

It was among a series of events planned to commemorate the historic event.

With events such as the Trayvon Martin shooting and the Supreme Court repeal of a section of the Voting Rights Act, library board members wanted to mark a significant moment for the Civil Rights movement and motivate people to continue the fight, said Wilton Robinson Jr., board president.

"I think Dr. King would be disappointed if he were here today," Robinson said. "When I was growing up, you were basically obligated to teach children about our history. We hardly do that anymore."

Robinson and other speakers encouraged the audience to vote, speak with politicians and join civil rights leaders for the March on Washington celebration.

The event also included gospel performances, a re-enactment of King's speech and an address from the Rev. Herbert Daughtry of The House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn.

Despite frustration with what they see as setbacks in the civil rights struggle, those attending Saturday remained hopeful, ending the event by singing "We Shall Overcome."

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