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Reliving the March on Washington

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech. More than 200,000 people gathered in Washington, DC in 1963 for the largest peaceful political rally in America’s history at the time, a decisive chapter in the nation’s civil rights history. This historic day changed the face of the Civil Rights Movement and the United States forever. This speech has lived on in the hearts and minds of Americans ever since the famous words were uttered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial five decades ago.

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Reliving this pivotal event years later in Washington, DC—where it all took place—is incredibly powerful. For those international travelers interested in all facets of American culture, this movement is an important part of the nation’s collective history. Read on to find out what the March on Washington means for visitors like you.

The March on Washington Today
This significant time has been commemorated for the past few years both in Washington, DC and across the country through events, interviews with involved parties, documentaries and more. Washington, DC is a hub of activity surrounding the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, especially following the dedication the Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall exactly two years ago. “We’re excited to host a march 50 years later and to be physically here for the event,” says Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO of Destination DC, the destination marketing organization for Washington, DC. “It is exciting to talk about what this means to America as a country and how things have changed over the last 50 years.”

Dr. King’s speech 50 years ago made an impact on the American perspective of our nation’s capital. The District (as the city is often referred to) and the National Mall have become an important destination for people who have studied the march and U.S. civil rights. Often when people go to the reflecting pool on the national mall, they either think of Dr. King’s speech on the mall—or Forest Gump—Ferguson jokes.

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However, the March on Washington involves more people than simply the African American community. A little known fact, the Jewish community played a huge role in the Civil Rights movement and their involvement really underscored the message behind the movement. “Their story and their recollection of the march are so profound and unique. It is not a message that people think about because people see the Civil Rights Movement as primarily an African American movement, but that was not necessarily what Dr. King’s message was. It is really civil rights…and civil rights are for everyone,” Ferguson says.

Washington, DC Then and Now
Washington, DC has gone through an impressive transformation since 1963 from civil rights and liberties to urban development. “Fifty years ago when someone would come to DC it would be about visiting the monuments and memorials, and to a certain extent the Smithsonian museums. For the African American community, it would be visiting U Street, the mecca for African American life at that time before the riots of 1968,” Ferguson recalls. And while the three Ms (Museums, Monuments and Memorials) are an important part of the visitor experience, the city has evolved to offer much more. Its history and place as the seat of power for the United States adds complexity and intrigue to the destination. However, as locals know, there are really two Washingtons: the political side and the other side. “The political side with Capitol Hill is extremely important and the reason why Washington exists, but there is the other side of the city with the neighborhoods, restaurants and shops, and so many things to see and do…you can get so many facets of American history and culture right here in Washington,” Ferguson adds. 

From a civil rights perspective, DC has undergone a massive transformation as well. “Fast forward 50 years and look at President Obama in the White House. When you resurrect the words ‘I have a Dream’ it resonates quite differently now,” he adds.

Experiencing the March on Washington During Your Stay
Today Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter are scheduled to speak during the reenactment. While we know you can’t be here on such short notice, you can visit our Facebook page later on for pictures of this event and follow these tips for reliving this event and the movement during your stay.

Your first stop should be the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. “Think about all of the historic events that have taken place, including the march on Washington, in front of the Lincoln Memorial. You feel as if you were there when history was being made 50 years ago and then again in 2013,” Ferguson advises. Next walk over the new Martin Luther King memorial, where you will find an imposing likeness of the famous leader and many of his important quotes.

Museums are the next stop on your tour. Many museums like Newseum, the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Women in the Arts, American History Museum, and the Library of Congress have exhibits dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King and the March on Washington (exhibits hyperlinked above). It is also the 55th anniversary of local institution Ben’s Chili bowl, one of the oldest African American-owned business in the District and a business that survived the U Street riots following Dr. King’s assassination. Stop there and enjoy their famous half-smoke chili dogs and take in some of the homegrown history. Lastly, visit Washington.org to plan your trip and find out more information on the entire Civil Rights movement including information on the U Street Corridor.

-Talia Salem

Charley Boorman recaps his trip so far throughout the United States.  He’s been enjoying how different and diverse all of the cities are from one another.  

The show’s next adventure took them to Louisiana’s Cajun Country in search of frogs. The frogging, as it’s called locally, started with David Allmond, owner of McGee’s Landing, a local tour spot, café and campground. Frogs are a local delicacy in this part of Louisiana and David is well-known for hunting and preparing whole frogs—he has been a featured chef on such famous American TV shows as Good Morning America, The Today Show, and The CBS Morning Show.

At 8 pm that night Charley and David embarked on the airboat across the 835,000-acre Atchafalaya Basin Swamp hunting for frogs for seven hours. The ride on the swamp was stunning with views of the trees and local wildlife. Even after going to bed at 3 am, the crew awoke at 7 am to cook their jumping spoils from the night before. Charley met up again with David to learn the recipe that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver helped him with. After a breakfast of champions, ahem ribbits, the Extreme Frontiers and EagleRider crews set back off on the road this time heading for Bandera, Texas. Charley couldn’t wait for his cowboy adventure: Yee-haw!

To watch the frogging adventure in action, click here. For more images of frogging in Henderson, view our album on Facebook.

The next day brought New Orleans with its unmistakable culture entrenched in history. Charley and the crew enjoyed some local jazz music down on the world-famous Bourbon Street, before exploring the history of the city. Howard Hunter, the president of the Louisiana Historical Society, showed Charley and the crew around town explaining how Louisiana became part of the United States when it was purchased from the French in 1803 for the startlingly low price of about 42 cents per acre (in modern currency). Like all of the stops along the way, Charley and the crew wish they had more time to explore New Orleans, but they had to move on to their next adventure in Convington: alligator wrangling.

Wasting no time, Charley and the crew got right down to business at the Twin Elm Ranch, a guest ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Charley and Russ got in the saddle to set off on their horse wrangling adventure in preparation for the next day’s bull herding. That night the crew was treated to a veritable cowboy feast. Charley learned how to cook popcorn the cowboy way and enjoyed music from a live Texan band. The next day brought bull herding, a real test of cowboy skills. They saddled up again and met up with some local cowboys to ride down where the bulls were grazing. Though he had never herded bull before, in true adventurer’s fashion Charley bucked up and showed the bulls who was boss. Charley and his band of cowboys managed to get the herd across the river and over to the pen for that day’s rodeo.

Charley then swapped his trusty steed for a Wild West gun. Charley was outfitted with every gun a real cowboy would have used, but he preferred Quigley gun. Charley and Russ ended up being great shots and had the 10-gallon cowboy hat to prove it. To tie together the entire Wild West journey, that night they got to experience a real rodeo! Next stop New Mexico via the train—all aboard!

Charley arrives in texas on his Extreme Frontiers tour and gets to experience becoming a real Cowboy in the Wild West.  For more images from Texas and Charley’s cowboy adventure, see our album on Facebook.

Charley sets out to recreate the Wright Brother’s historic first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With the help of Kitty Hawk Kites, Charley strapped into the 1902 reproduction glider to fly just like the Wright brothers did in the 1900s, when they unlocked the key to controlled flight. Less than 100 people in history have flown this flight!

Still wobbly from the night at sea, Charley was happy to be on dry land and back on his beloved BMW motorcycle. He and his entourage traveled southwest down to North Carolina to Kitty Hawk, a low-key coastal town in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Known today for its beautiful beaches and relaxing environment, Kitty Hawk was the location where the Wright Brothers achieved their first successful airplane flights—talk about living history! Filled with excitement and courage, Charley set out to recreate the Wright Brother’s historic first flight. With the help of Kitty Hawk Kites, Charley strapped into the 1902 reproduction glider to fly just like the Wright brothers did in the 1900s, when they unlocked the key to controlled flight. Less than 100 people in the history of the world have flown this flight!

Charley Boorman goes underground to the caves in Georgia during the filming of Extreme Frontiers: USA. Charley and the crew spent the night in PettyJohn’s Cave by Rock Springs.

As Georgia and the region are known for its deep caves, Charley had to see what this was all about. He and the crew teamed up with the local fire and cave rescue crew—yes, we did say cave rescue—to spend the night in the cave. The local crew took them to PettyJohn’s Cave in the hills of Georgia by Rock Springs. With the guidance of the local rescuers, Charley and the entire team crawled down through the cave, where they eventually made their camp. The space, aptly named “the pankcake,” was cramped and dark, as you can see from the video below. But don’t worry, the entire team made it out ok and off to their next adventure in Mississippi.  

Check out the Facebook page for more pictures from the caving adventure.  

The next stop on Charley’s six-week journey across the United States was the Chattanooga River on the South Carolina and Georgia border, where the critically acclaimed 1972 film “Deliverance” was filmed. This part of the trip was especially important for Charley as he had lived in Georgia as a child during the filming of “Deliverance,” which was directed by his father John Boorman and featured a few scenes with young Charley himself. The film told the story of four suburban men on a weekend camping and canoeing trip, which had gone awry. To relive the camping from the film, Extreme Frontiers: USA hooked up with SC Mountain Lake company to camp by the Chattanooga River. Charley also wanted to canoe down the river like they did in the film with the same man that taught the movie’s crew to do so: Charles Wiggens.

Charley Boorman rappels down Big Bradley Falls in North Carolina.

Before embarking on the next adventure, the Extreme Frontiers: USA and EagleRider crews set out to conquer “Tail of the Dragon” a famously treacherous 11-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 129. Celebrated in motorcycle lore for its curves (318 bends to be exact), Charley described it as, “One hell of a ride.” (Click this link to see an animated map of “The Dragon”). The following day, the crew arrived at Big Bradley Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in North America.  With the help of Green River Adventures, Charley strapped into a zipline, and rappelled down the massive and beautiful falls in the Western Carolina Mountains. 

The following day was July 4th, the United States’ Independence Day. One of the most celebrated and festive holidays in the nation; Charley said it was a real treat to be in the USA for this big celebration. To commemorate this big holiday, Charley delved into its history and the War of Independence, which lasted from 1775–1783 and resulted in the creation of the United States. He teamed up with the Charlotte Museum and battle reenactors Jim Williams and Tom Phlegar to relive this important piece of American history. Charley suited up to play the part and even learned how to shoot a sizable black powder gun, which was used in battle at the time. The team was very passionate about reenacting this historic day and allowed Charley to play a central role in the action.

For more images of Charley’s adventures in North Carolina, see our album on Facebook