CHICAGO (CBS) — March 28, 1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech that would help to unify a nation. Among the sea of people in the crowd was Chicagoan Brenetta Howell Barrett.
“That day, I mean I was just thrilled,” said Barrett.
Barrett helped to organize marchers from Chicago, spreading the one word that summed up demands splashed on all the signs: Freedom.
“To me, the word freedom incorporated what was being hoped for in areas like education and housing which were not spelled out.”
Although she’ll be in Chicago as civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson re-live the moments in Washington, D.C.
“Fresh from jail in North and South Carolina, I was blessed to be here 50 years ago. Thank God for the journey,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Barrett says she remembers part of Dr. King’s speech and how it touched her like it was yesterday.
“I was the divorced mother of four young children. I was trying to think about their aspirations and what I was going to do when I got back home,” said Barrett.
And she says getting communities involved at home remains the challenge for marchers today. Barrett works to raise awareness about HIV on Chicago’s West Side as part of her long list of current efforts.