If you were there when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries would love to hear from you.
The library staff is looking for people like Bill McCloud, a resident of Odessa, who was there at the pivotal event on the mall in Washington, D.C.
“I was a private in the Army,” recalled McCloud, now 68. “I think there was all this concern that there was going to be a riot,” he said.
Instead, the Aug. 28, 1963 event was a nonviolent demonstration, which attracted about 250,000 people to demonstrate their support for economic and racial equality.
“It was overwhelming for me to see such a number of people,” McCloud said.
“It was just a great event that really helped change some of the dynamics of America,” said McCloud, who noted that he had no idea at the time how significant it would be.
The library system is creating a video history of local residents, like McCloud, who participated in the historic 1963 March on Washington.
From now through Aug. 16, library personnel will be available to digitally record the memories of local residents who attended the event that drew 250,000 people to Washington, D.C. The system decided to collect the stories and to have a special event to share them because, as staff member Stacey Jurewicz put it, “we didn’t want to lose this opportunity.”
The video histories will be featured along with an afternoon of freedom songs at the West Tampa Branch Library, 2312 Union St. in Tampa, on Aug. 24 at 2:30 p.m.
Those wishing to share their story are asked to call Jurewicz, so she can arrange a time and place for the recording. She can be reached at (813) 273-3652.
The library system isn’t the only local organization honoring the half-century anniversary of that historic day. West Central Florida’s primary PBS station, WEDU, is holding a film screening to honor the event.
The station is hosting a special preview event on Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St. in Tampa. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
Visitors will be able to view a gallery of photos from the 1963 march, meet local residents who took part and see a free preview screening of “The March.”
Seating is limited and reservations are requested. Reservations can be made online at www.wedu.org/themarch.
The program will also air on WEDU-TV on Aug. 27 at 9 p.m., with a block of related programming.