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Local Civil Rights Leaders Look Back March on Washington - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Local Civil Rights Leaders Look Back March on Washington

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SHREVEPORT, La -

Wednesday, August 28th, we celebrate a milestone in the civil rights movement, the historic March on Washington, 50 years ago.

Right here in Shreveport, we have our own civil rights leaders who marched and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to effect change. KTBS 3 sat down with them as they reflected on that time and now.  

Dr. C. O. Simpkins and Pastor Harry Blake remember a dark time in Shreveport's history where racism and prejudice thrived. More than 50 years ago, they worked to start a change. Dr. Simpkins helped run the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. King. They also marched together in Selma, Alabama. Dr. Simpkins said of the time, "The march itself was for jobs, housing-the same things we're fighting for right now." Simpkins says today's marches should have the same purpose and passion. "I would go there to stay there, not just go, get a hamburger and come back home. I would go until Congress did something."

Blake attended a Civil Rights Rally at Little Union Baptist Church here in Shreveport. He was nearly beaten to death by Shreveport PD. He remember's the first time he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "King was my (collegiate) commencement speaker, and Dr. Simpkins was here and he said, 'I want to introduce you to Martin King. My daddy instilled in me the King Spirit to be free. So I always knew I wanted to be free and that there was something wrong with what I saw happening in America."

Dr. Simpkins shares several photos of him with Dr. King who spoke in Shreveport on August 14th, 1958 at the Old Galilee Baptist Church. This was 5 years before the March on Washington, and Dr. King had the same theme and sometimes the very same words that were presented in his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." Now, Dr. Simpkins and Dr. Blake look over the last 50 years and say there's still work to do. Dr. Simpkins offered, "We've come a long distance but now, we're going back where we came from. We're giving it all up by being so benign and so kind. So rich and so famous." Blake said, "The needs today, maybe even more grave and intense than they were 50 years ago."

Starting mid September, there will be a week's worth of events commemorating the Civil Rights Movement right here in Shreveport. Stay with KTBS 3 News on air and online for more information on this historic occasion.

 

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