‘It Was Like a United Congregation’
Ed Warfield, white, a retired Episcopal clergyman, was 30 years old in 1963. At the time he was serving as Vicar of the Chapel of the Ascension in East Baltimore. He lives in Sykesville now. St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, where Warfield is still active in ministry, will have a multi-racial group of people read Dr. King's speech on Sunday, August 25.
In 1963, I was just recently out of seminary. That part of the [area] had imported a lot of people from the South to come to work at Bethlehem Steel and to work at Martin State Airport during World War II, so there were a lot of Southerners in the area.
Not a lot of them were necessarily in favor of civil rights. So [I was] working against the tide but very much in favor of civil rights. I decided to forge on and take my part in the March on Washington and got some flak for it of course.
I had one member of the congregation who supported me. He went with me, we drove.
I had never been a part of such a huge demonstration. The courage, the presence of the people there, each individual, sort of impressed me. It was like a united congregation you might say. And then of course when Martin Luther King started to speak, they had these huge amplifiers. It was clear as a bell. Then his words seemed to build and build. I still get chills when I hear the speech on the radio or see it again on television.
I was just moved by the whole crowd, and by the speech… a sense of exhilaration and yet not fully knowing what we had just done— or what had just been done for civil rights. I just don’t believe that I knew or understood the great impact.
The mixture of people and personalities there for purpose, for jobs, and for justice, was fantastic but it was so much more than that. I think it affected the government and the population of the United States to move ahead.