Judith Claire, Washington, DC

I returned to Michigan from serving in the Peace Corps in 1963 and in August I prepared to go to a new job with former Peace Corps volunteers at Cardozo High School in Washington, DC. I arrived in Washington by train on August 27th so that I could join the March on Washington the next day.

During my time in the Peace Corps, I lived on a small island in the Philippines-Catanduanes. There was no water, electricity, etc. What saved me was my battery radio and the Voice of America. I also got old copies of Life and Look Magazines. I could not believe what was happening in my country when I listened to the radio at night and heard about the police beatings and killings of the Negro people back home.

On the morning of August 28th I went to All Souls Unitarian Church at 16th and Harvard NW and joined a group of women who were marching down to the Lincoln Memorial. The city was quiet. We moved easily down the streets and joined others with signs and songs. As I recall, it seemed to be something like a Sunday picnic with well dressed people gathering to celebrate and to ask for jobs and equal rights — also to end police brutality. I ended up somewhat near the right side of the Lincoln and could see some type of opening under that corner. That day was the beginning of my long and sorrowful time in Washington. In November, President Kennedy was assassinated and then came Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam war. I felt a terrible loss during the years after that hopeful day of August 28th 1963. I still feel that time and over the years have expressed my thoughts in paintings of the struggles of the time.

Submitted: February 16, 2013

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