Claudia Hanes from Kentucky holds a placard during a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
(Photo: Jose Luis Magana, AP)
WASHINGTON (USA Today) -- In a departure from events a half-century ago, women played a larger role in Saturday's commemoration of the March on Washington.
"Fifty years ago, women were not up here speaking, but here we are today," Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told a crowd that contained substantially more women than its predecessor in 1963.
Keynote speakers included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader of the House of Representatives, and King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, who offered a moving final prayer to close the event.
Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain black teenager, Trayvon Martin, provided a tribute of her son, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers, also addressed the crowd.
During the original event, women such as Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height marched down Independence Avenue, while men walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, where the media congregated. All participants strolled down Independence together Saturday, passing the new Martin Luther King Memorial.
Filling the ranks were women from across the country, and many made a point of bringing their children.
Tamilikia Foster, 42, drove for 12 hours to show her daughters and their best friends the importance of fighting for a cause.
The mom from Lansing, Mich., used to be homeless, but decided she needed to make a better life for her family. She is now a registered nurse and motivational speaker who said she believes participating in events such as Saturday's commemoration is an important step to insuring a good future.
"I brought my daughters all the way here to see that ... one voice can make a difference, one voice can make a change," Foster said.