Mr. Elijah Cameron, director of community relations at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, talked to students about the first time he saw Dr. King and about walking in civil rights marches during an all-school assembly on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Mr. Cameron was 16 when he went with some friends to the March on Washington in 1963 and heard Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. "It was really hot and there were many speeches before Dr. King's," he said. He told the students how important it was for them to continue working toward equality for all. "You all are the light that will help shine," he said.
He met Dr. King for the first and only time at the march with sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968. He shook his hand and walked along side him. "We enjoyed being there, but we didn't know what was going to happen," he said. Dr. King was assassinated that April in Memphis.
Mr. Cameron explained parts of the "I Have a Dream" speech to the students. He talked about feeling scared at times during protests. While he was never hurt, some of his friends were. He talked about what freedom is and how Dr. King talked about being non-violent but proactive.
"Some of you will be as important as Dr. King. You will help change the world we live in, and you will help us all be free," he said.