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Local event honors King, March on Washington

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

In the shadow of the giant bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in the park named for the civil rights leader, Buffalonians remembered the powerful speech he delivered a half-century ago.

The event drew a wide array of people, some of whom were in the nation's capital 50 years ago when King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.     

Many listened to Ron Brown  as he delivered an impassioned recreation of the speech, word-for-word as the audience reacted.

William Yelder recalled witnessing the massive crowd sprawling out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

"At the age of 13, honestly, I realized how important the man that was giving the speech was, so that made me realize I had to listen to what he had to say."

Yelder says it inspired him to a life of activism.

Valerie Niederhoffer, then at the age of 20, says she couldn't hear what was being said that August day, but remembers other details.
"There were lots and lots of people. I saw people in the trees trying to figure out if they could get a good view of everything," Niederhoffer said.

"Joan Baez was there. I wanted to hear her but I couldn't hear her."

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Also on hand were groups like Save the Kids Buffalo and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, groups who say they are carrying on with Doctor King's work.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.