The Rev. Dr. John Richardson, of Havre de Grace, was not in Washington 50 years ago; he was in northern Mississippi, part of an army of civil rights workers trying to make King's dream reality.
Richardson, now 71, was a student at Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs, and a student pastor with Hamilton Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in the community of Waterford, Miss., about 10 miles south of the college campus.
"Any number of the civil rights meetings were held at my church, the little church that I had," he recalled in an interview with The Aegis Tuesday.
He and fellow civil rights activists worked to register black voters in the South, took part in NAACP meetings and even participated in the 1965 march from Selma, Ala., to the state capitol in Montgomery.
Richardson experienced the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech through television.
"I watched the whole thing on television," he said.
Richardson said he watched King deliver his speech on Aug. 28, 1963 with the dean of his college, faculty members and fellow students.
"I was pastoring the church and I could not get away at that time," he said.
Richardson grew up in Columbus, Miss.; his college was about 30 miles north of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and he retains vivid memories of James Meredith and his effort in 1962 to be the first black student at Ole Miss.
Meredith was able to integrate the campus, but it required the protection of federal marshals and the National Guard.
Richardson watched National Guard trucks travel past his college campus "all night and all day."
"When I saw thousands of National Guard [troops] going down there to allow one guy integrate a school, I became acutely aware of the difficulty and hostility that existed," Richardson said.
He described King's speech as "very moving."
"It touched on a lot of the issues that we had faced, and we knew that there was discrimination," he said.
Richardson said that, even though the University of Mississippi had been integrated a year before King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he did not expect to be able to attend graduate school in his home state.
He noted many faculty members at Mississippi Industrial College, including the dean, had obtained their advanced degrees at out-of-state schools, and the only professions open to blacks in the South were education or the clergy.
"We talked a little bit about that," Richardson recalled. "We talked about poverty and jobs, and also about people moving ahead."
Richardson said he had had "no interaction with white folks" growing up.
"The schools were segregated, the community was segregated and that's the way it was," he said.