ANDERSON — Maurice Caldwell and his wife, Dondeena, can remember a time when African Americans weren’t allowed in restaurants and had their own drinking fountains.
“I remember they would turn black people away at restaurants or serve them out back,” Dondeena Caldwell said. “And that was in the North.”
But that all changed, thanks in large part to the work of Martin Luther King Jr. who is celebrated today through many different remembrances and memorials. Maurice Caldwell and his friend Ed Foggs took part in the famous March on Washington in 1963. They were also present for King’s “I have a dream” speech.
Foggs said he can still vividly remember that day in Washington and the feeling he had after hearing the speech.
“There was such a buoyancy that I felt after he finished his speech,” Foggs said. “It was as if I wasn’t standing under my own power. It was as if I was being lifted up.”
Foggs said the march turned out better than anyone could have hoped. He said many of the organizers were unsure about how many people would show up. But as the day wore on, more and more people started showing up, coming from all over the nation.
“It wasn’t just Washington people,” Foggs said. “This was a national gathering.”
Maurice Caldwell met King on two different occasions, once in Montgomery in 1957 and again in Atlanta in 1963. He was invited to speak at King’s church in Montgomery while he was a missionary in Mexico. He said King had a great interest in the Church of God.
The impact of those visits and his background in ministry led Maurice to join the March on Washington. He said even when he was in seminary school in New Jersey, news of King’s work reached him.