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Commemoration of March on Washington at Orlando City Hall

August 28th, 2013 | WMFE- Orlando celebrates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Wednesday afternoon with a replay of Martin Luther King Jr's I have a Dream speech. Among those attending the commemoration at City Hall: LaVon Bracy, one of the first African Americans to integrate Gainesville High School.

[Image: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Mall, August 1963]

LaVon Bracy’s father Thomas A. Wright was president of the Alachua County NAACP.  Their family had also lived in St. Augustine, where Bracy has vivid memories of colored- only water fountains and lunch counters, and other injustices of segregation.

In 1963 Bracy remembers being glued to the television as Dr. King spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

“He’s putting himself out there, he has four small children, and he has a cause he’s willing to die for which ultimately he did," says Bracy. 

"There needs to be some of us that understand progress has to be made and you have to have something you’re willing to die for.” 

In 1964 the NAACP brought a lawsuit forcing the integration of Alachua county schools- and Bracy transferred to what had been up until then the all-white Gainesville High.

It was the worst year of her life: she was spat on, taunted and even beaten up.

But she drew inspiration from the words of Dr. King to finish the year and become the first black student to graduate Gainesville High.

Listening to a replay of the speech today will be a chance for reflection.

“I’m going to rewind my mental VCR and just capture the last 50 years in terms of the progress that has been made and places that we need to be,” says Bracy.

Bracy says she’ll also record President Obama’s speech on the National Mall this afternoon to watch later. She says the fact the US has an African American president shows how far the country has come- but the fight for equality isn’t over yet.

Today’s commemoration at Orlando City Hall is hosted by the mayor’s Martin Luther King Junior commission- and includes music and video along with a replay of the historic speech.

Listen to an interview with LaVon Bracy here


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