The MLK March On Washington - 50 Years On

August 28, 2013

Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic March on Washington.

yarnell George Dean was 23 when Martin Luther King Jr. led his historic civil rights march in Washington, D.C. While Dean says much has changed in the last 50 years, he insists that King's dream is nowhere near completely realized. (Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)

In Arizona -- and across the country -- bells rang in memory of the event. And one Phoenix man remembered that day with mixed emotions.

Fifty years ago, George Dean was 23 and one of the few African-Americans living Gallup, N.M. Today, he’s the president of the Greater Phoenix Urban League. He said King’s march led to legislation that fought racial discrimination. The march also proved to him how much work needed to be done for civil rights. According to Dean, much of that work remains.

“We have to move away from the labels we put on people -- and we do it all the time, from tall, short, and thin, and fat, and black, and white,” he said. “We gotta move away from that and understand that we’re all human beings.”

Dean says he listened on and off to the events in Washington, D.C., commemorating the march. But, he adds, speeches alone aren’t going to change things.  What really matters, he said, is action.     

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to reflect the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was Wednesday.

Updated 8/29/2013 at 9:37 a.m.