“I felt indebted to him because he helped me to focus on my life goals and I’ve been a different person of my acquaintance with Dr. King,” Maurice Caldwell said.
Maurice Caldwell, who is white, said he learned early from his father and other pastors that race discrimination was wrong. He said they would take trips to Anderson for the Church of God convention with his father and three other ministers, one of whom was black.
“They would stop at restaurants and if they wouldn’t serve (the African-American minister), none of us would eat there,” Caldwell said. “That taught me the right thing from an early age.”
The march had a deep impact on the Caldwells, and they believe it was one of the most important moments for the civil rights movement.
“It certainly changed a lot in our society,” Maurice said. “But we still have some work to do.”
Some of the people who will be carrying on that work were with James Burgess, head of Anderson-Madison County’s NAACP branch, at the 50-year anniversary of the march during the summer of 2013. He said he was heartened by the amount of young people who went on the trip.
“There were a lot of people who have never been involved in protests,” Burgess said. “This new generation was finding out what mobilizing is all about.”
He said the young people got on opportunity to experience what it was like to protest and march.
As the nation remembers what King fought for, Burgess said some of the issues the nation is facing today would “appall” King, especially poverty.
“King’s dream was about getting civil rights and then keeping civil rights,” Burgess said. “Our poverty levels are at an all-time high and I think Dr. King would be appalled.”