Chicago woman honors grandmother's legacy by commemorating March on Washington anniversary in DC

ByJasmine Minor WLS logo
Saturday, August 26, 2023
60th anniversary of March on Washington commemorated in Chicago, DC
A Chicago woman whose grandmother was killed fighting for voting rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is traveling to D.C. for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago woman whose grandmother was killed fighting for voting rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said she is traveling to Washington D.C. to make sure his dream isn't forgotten.

Martese Chism was just five years old when her grandmother, freedom rider Birdia Keglar, died.

"She marched with Dr. King. Ten months later, after they passed the Voting Rights Act, she was murdered," Chism said. "I made a promise to her that her death would not be in vain."

To honor her grandmother, Chism has traveled from Chicago to Washington D.C. to commemorate the March on Washington for several years. But she said this year's trip feels less like a celebration of King's faous "I Have a Dream" speech, and more futile.

"I didn't even want to come this time. We're getting tired of coming to D.C., knowing that nothing's gonna change" she said.

Father Michael Pfleger said as we count down the hours to the 60th hours of the speech, America has to face very real truths.

"I think he'd be saddened that we are yet so far, and in many ways taking steps backward. The dream isn't just some concept, it's a lifestyle of commitment," Pfleger said. "We're a country that was founded on genocide. It was built on slavery. And today, where white supremacy still rules. If we don't come to grips and face that, we are never going to get rid of it."

From voter suppression to criminal justice, Chism said she is tired. But she hasn't given up the fight just yet.

"We got to go back to the direction of the original March on Washington," she said.

"Do like he did, follow him," said Pfleger.

The following events are among those being held in Chicago this weekend to commemorate the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech:

Saturday Morning Forum

Rainbow Push Coalition National Headquarters

930 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60615

August 26, 10 a.m.

Keep the Dream Alive: Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Worship service/Musical celebration: 1:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church at 77 W Washington Street, Chicago

March and Rally: 2:30 pm. at Daley Plaza, Chicago

August 27