‘We put a smile on God’s face that day’


(Orginally published August 26, 1983) Det. Charles J. Jackson of the Jersey City, NJ Police Department plans to be at the 1983 March on Washington and among the 25,000 persons expected to attend from New Jersey.

This will be the second time Det. Jackson has witnessed March on Washington.

The first time, the 1963 March on Washington, Jackson stood on the platform when Dr. King delivered the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jackson was one of the 350 volunteers who served as the security force and his photo appeared around the world as he stood on the right hand of the famous civil rights leader. Many times have readers of the newspapers and magazines wondered who the guards were at King’s side.

When photographer Glasco Ryales was at his home town of Jersey City a week or so ago, he found Det. Jackson at his desk at police headquarters and exclaimed, “I knew I recognized you from that picture,” Ryales immediately took the photo of the detective for the AFRO. The police department is only three blocks from Ryales parents’ home.

Ryales, an independent Baltimore photographer, talked with Det. Jackson and was told that his photo with Dr. King on the platform of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 is a valuable possession, “one I will never give up,” Jackson said.

He reveals that he has often repeated his feelings about that glorious day and puts it this way, “We probably put a smile on God’s face that day.”

Probably no one got a better view of the crowd of over a quarter of a million people at the 1963 event. It is possible that Det. Jackson’s description of the March as “our greatest effort” is exact. However, he states that the rights Black persons sought in 1963 have not come to pass.

He says, “We still have a long way to go.”

Noting the number of unemployed in his city and state and all over America and the vestiges of segregation that remain, Jackson adds, “It’s alright to try again. We should raise our voices but we still wonder if our dreams as Martin Luther King put them will come true.”

'We put a smile on God's face that day'

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