“It’s all so very meaningful,” said Wakhisi, who said she was surrounded by marchers wearing shirts who said they had taken part in the ‘63 march.
She was among hundreds of people from South Florida who traveled by air, car and bus to participate in Saturday’s march.
On Friday, nearly 60 people boarded a bus outside the New Way Fellowship Baptist Church on Northwest 22nd Avenue in Miami Gardens to join the tens of thousands of other marchers from across the nation. The bus trip was organized by the Miami-Dade NAACP branch.
“It’s just an amazing sight to see being here in Washington,” said Treska Rodgers, of North Kendall, who rode the NAACP bus with three generations of her South Florida family.
“It’s given me a better understanding of what had happened 50 years ago,” she said as she heard speakers talk about justice and human rights. “Hearing someone describe what happened 50 years ago is one thing, but now I feel a connection to it all.”
Speakers on Saturday frequently mentioned persistent high unemployment among blacks, which is about twice that of white Americans, and other issues.
Among those issues was this summer’s acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin. Along the Mall, Martin’s picture was nearly as ubiquitous as King’s.
"It’s very difficult to stomach the fact that Trayvon wasn’t committing any crime. He was on his way home from the store," Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother told reporters on Friday. "Don’t wait until it’s at your front door. Don’t wait until something happens to your child. ... This is the time to act now. This is the time to get involved."
Those in attendance on Saturday arrived in a post-9/11 Washington that was very different from the one civil rights leaders visited in 1963.
Then, people crowded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and could get close to King to hear his speech. On Saturday, metal barriers kept people away from the reflecting pool.
Only a small group of attendees was allowed near the memorial. Everyone else had been pushed back and watched and listened to the speeches on big-screen televisions. Police were stationed atop the Lincoln Memorial. There was a media area and VIP seating.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place King stood when he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Obama will be joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m., marking the exact time King spoke.
Miami Herald editor Sergio R. Bustos contributed to this report.