Walter Blasingame didn't take his wife to the March on Washington in 1963. If she had gone, she would have lost her job at an Annapolis doctors' office, he said. Blasingame, too, feared repercussions at his federal government post in a Navy research lab.
But tonight -- in a ceremony at the county's community college marking the 40th anniversary of the watershed rally -- the Anne Arundel County government will officially commend Blasingame, 67, for attending the march.
"I'll be there," Blasingame said, "and I'll be there remembering.
"I still think to this day that was one of the most important events that took place in this country. Segregation just began to crumble after that."
Carl O. Snowden, an aide to County Executive Janet S. Owens, said he organized tonight's event because more history of the march will disappear before its 50th anniverary.
"People who live in Anne Arundel County who took part in the historic march are dying off," said Snowden. "It's really important the current generation know who these people are.
"This is an opportunity to be able to show another generation that it was ordinary men and women who made a rendezvous with history."
During a two-hour ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. at Pascal Center for Performing Arts, Owens will present commendations to more than 50 people who attended the march.
The event will include speeches by Roger W. Moyer Sr., a former Annapolis mayor who attended the march, and former state Del. Kenneth L. Webster, whose legislation made Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday an official holiday in Maryland.