Lynchburg Race Relations: 50 Years Later

Lynchburg, VA - The anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream Speech" was also marked in Lynchburg Wednesday.

The social justice advocacy group "Many Voices, One Community" gathered at Riverside Park Wednesday morning to announce a conference next month.

The event will tackle the issue of racism in the community, a subject that people say still needs to be addressed five decades after the March on Washington.

In 1961 the city closed and filled what's left of Lynchburg's whites only pool at Riverside Park, rather than let African Americans, including Walter Fore, in.

"We never could come over here because this was the part of the community that was definitely taboo for us to be over, be seen in the area," said Fore, Lynchburg Social Justice Leader.

More than 50 years later, Fore was in the open with friends of different races to commemorate a turning point.

"August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of March for Jobs and Freedom," said Benjamin Hagwood, with Many Voices, One Community.

"Fifty years ago today I was a newly-wedded father trying to raise two children, without a job," Fore said. "The [MLK] speech. Just chills come over you. [I] cried, because I'd never heard a man speak like that."

The people who gathered at Riverside Park Wednesday say we are still in many ways just treading water when it comes to race relations.

"There has been some change. But at the same time I see us slipping back," Fore added.

Fore was determined this time he'd make it to Washington; he was one of thousands who marched over the weekend.

"I don't think anything I could ever see in my life could match that," Fore said.

Fore says he hopes he'll never see the discrimination of his youth.

"Sometimes at night we would slip in just to see what it looked like," Fore remembered.

The Race, Poverty and Social Justice Conference is October 12 at Randolph College. It's being presented by Many Voices, One Community.

For more information on the group, click here.