Qwendolyn Swinton, 81, and Dedra Arthur, 59 visited the Mall with a family friend, Sharon Duncan, 57 from Maryland.

Swinton of Dallas remembers “as a young person, I worked in the Civil Rights Movement through SNCC. We had an opportunity to hear Dr. King many times in person. It was extraordinary.” They confronted the enemy by peaceful means as taught by Dr. King. “We tried our best to listen to everything he said and then do it like he told us to.”

“I remember one time when Dr. King came to speak and we were handing out flyers to the crowd about his message. A group of Whites came and started handing out anti-Dr. King flyers. People threw those hate flyers to the ground. Later, we picked them up and burned them so no one would ever read the racist stuff,” Swinton said.

Arthur said her parents were very instrumental in the civil rights movement. “I was in the third grade but I went with them and stood on picket lines and marched, too.” Later she became one of the first Black children to integrate several schools and graduated in the largest enrollment of Blacks from the University of Houston. “This monument is awesome. I think it is impressive for non-Blacks to witness. They all want their picture with Dr, King, a man of peace.”

Duncan said her family always told stories of Dr. King playing as a childhood friend with her father. “My great-grandfather, the Rev. Dr. D.D. Crawford befriended the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. and was instrumental in getting him his first church. “The Crawfords would always say that ‘your father and Martin used to play in front of the Big House across from Morehouse College.’”


Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO