Armory Park was the scene of the Tucson Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington on Aug. 28. Around 150 people listened as four young people, representing African American, Native American, Hispanic and Anglo societal groups, read segments of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Speakers at the event included U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva; Mayor Jonathan Rothschild; Donna Liggins, president of the Tucson Chapter of the NAACP; Cantor Avraham Alpert of Congregation Bet Shalom; and Dr. H.T. Sanchez, Tucson Unified School District superintendent.
“I was so honored to be a part of this, reading such a famous speech by such a great person,” said Rachel Mayer, 20, a junior at the University of Arizona who represented Anglo youth. Mayer, USY director at Congregation Bet Shalom, was recommended for participation by Frank Youdelman, past president of the synagogue. Youdelman served on 50th Anniversary March on Washington commemorative committee, under the auspices of the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce.
Mayer read the second to last part of the famous speech, she says, “when Dr. King said, ‘we can never be satisfied when a Negro in Mississippi can’t vote and when a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote’.”
Youdelman believes the committee chose the right person to take part in the 50th anniversary commemoration. “You can tell that Rachel is someone who respects others,” he says. “I’ve watched her work with kids at Bet Shalom. When she looks at individuals she doesn’t see them as black or white, red or yellow, male or female, Republicans or Democrats. That’s what MLK stood for.”
Mayer intends to continue working with children. “Now I want to go to graduate school in education,” she says, “and be an elementary school teacher.”