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STLCC Staff and Faculty Participate in 50th Commemorative March on Washington

August 28, 2013

Commemorative March  
Genesis Steele (far right) with other St. Louis Urban
League members.

St. Louis Community College staff and faculty recently traveled with the St. Louis Urban League to participate in the 50th Commemorative March on Washington in Washington, D.C.

Genesis Steele, Terry Freeman, Linda Collins and Annie Wagganer gathered with thousands of people to commemorate the anniversary.

Steele, acting director of the African-American Male Initiative program at STLCC, says being a participant in the 2013 Commemorative March on Washington was an unforgettable experience.

“It was an honor to march alongside coworkers and thousands of others who came together to advocate for positive change in our respective communities,” Steele said. “I learned a lot from those who traveled with us on the bus as they recounted living in segregation and the effects of the civil rights movement.” 

Wagganer, sociology instructor at STLCC, said it was an atmosphere of community and of importance.

“There was excitement and collective cheers. We sang songs as we marched and took pictures of signs that reminded us of all the various groups that support civil rights,” she said. “We are not a fringe group, we are the masses. The atmosphere was thankful and respectful. It was historic.”

Wagganer was reluctant to go at first because she didn’t think she could afford the time away from the office. Then her mind went to all of the assigned readings on her syllabus, which include the words and thoughts of so many prominent civil rights leaders.

“I thought about the context of the March on Washington and how I teach about systems of oppression and privilege,” she said. “I thought about being a co-advisor for the STLCC-Florissant Valley Social Justice Club. There was no way I was going to turn down this opportunity to walk my talk.”

Steele said that at the Commemorative March on Washington, they heard from great leaders who spoke about their moral obligation as members of their communities to come together to help support one another.

“I also had a great history lesson from former Urban League CEO James Buford, about the civil rights movement and its impact on the City of St. Louis,” she added.

The event was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP. A group of dynamic speakers, including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago.

“While so many things have changed for the better, there are still opportunities for improvement.  My dream is that people will not make rash decisions or stereotypes based on fear, or skin color, or ethnicity, but take the time to get to know the individual,” Steele said.