We Shall

The sun shone brightly. People in the crowd joined hands and sang; some put their feet in the reflecting pool. From Northern white college students to Southern black women in church hats, the march showed the power of diversity to push for political change.

Peter YarrowSinger, activist
Peter, Paul & MaryMarco Grob for TIME

“When we were going to the March on Washington, we didn’t know whether it was going to be violent, and we didn’t know if it was going to be a place where fear pervaded. The reality was, it was quite the opposite. Joyful doesn’t really describe it for me. It was like the physicalization of love. It was ecstatic perhaps, but it was not giddy and silly or ‘Let’s have a good time.’ It was a far deeper kind of joy. It went beyond joy. It was hard to describe, but it was the antithesis of fear, and it propelled us all into another channel in our lives.”

Rachel RobinsonWidow of Jackie RobinsonMarco Grob for TIME

“The spirit in the whole setting was so exciting, so positive, so hopeful that something was going to happen. We felt very enthusiastic about everything. We were happy to wait and find a seat, and delighted when we found a seat up front, so we could see the procedure and we could hear the speeches. And it turned out to be an extraordinary experience for all of us: for the children and for Jack and I, because we had never worked on anything of that magnitude or seen that kind of support for equal opportunities, which is what we had been hoping for for many years.”

It was not a march.
It was a ritual.
It was a congregation that was
the call.

Cover Story

One Dream

To mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, TIME presents a special commemorative issue—featuring Jon Meacham on King as a Founding Father of the 21st century; Richard Norton Smith on how King's words changed the nature of presidential persuasion; Michele Norris on the state of the dream today; plus Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Shonda Rhimes, Marco Rubio, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and more on what "I have a dream" means to them. Join TIME.com to read the full issue

© Dan Budnik — Contact Press Images

Personal Photos From the March

Charly Mann was just 13 years old when he boarded a bus in Chapel Hill, N.C., and traveled to Washington for the March on Washington. The diversity of the crowd he encountered on the National Mall stunned him. "In Chapel Hill, I was one of very few white supporters of civil rights—and pretty much the only one my age," Mann tells TIME. “I was so happy to see so many white people there. It felt like maybe things were changing in the country after all."

Here, TIME presents personal photo collections from Mann and several others from before, during and after the march.