King's Legacy Lives On
Posted January 17, 1999
RALEIGH — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired millions of people to practice what he preached: tolerance and understanding. Most who remember King understand his significance. Some who were not there don't.
A Raleigh woman has spent her life walking in King's footsteps.
"He was just such a phenomenal man. He had such an impact on you," said Dorothy Allen.
Allen saw King speak several times, and she was never disappointed.
"There was something about his voice and his oration. The man could speak and could hold your attention. He made you feel that you were living or you were going to live that dream," Allen said.
In 1963, Allen traveled from Raleigh to the nation's capital for the historic "March on Washington."
"Just to hear him and what was going on that day made me realize I could do more. It was giving some hope," Allen explained.
And she did do more, Allen has a wall of awards given for her hard work and dedication to civil rights.
For 33 years, she lead Wake Opportunities, a group which aids the poor. She says King and his movement made it possible.
But many say the unity across the country is missing a vital part of King's vision, young people who were not even born when King had the courage to dream.
"They are not as aware of the civil rights movement, what it stood for, what it was about," said Dorcas Robertson.
Robertson says the lack of youth presence is not only sad, but that it also hurts.
"...A lot of people went through a lot of stuff back then. Getting water thrown on them during marches when they were protesting. Getting beat up by police," said Robertson.
John Howz, 14, saw the march taking place, but he decided to spend his holiday in the mall buying video games.
"No. I wouldn't say that the holiday doesn't mean anything to me. It's a good day to take off for me," said Howz.
Although many young people learn about King and the civil rights movement in school, the importance of marches is a foreign concept.
And many say the danger of young people not knowing their past only jeopardizes what they are able to accomplish in the future.
Many people WRAL spoke to Monday said parents should tell their children and grandchildren what they personally remember about King and what life was like before the civil rights movement.
"It does something to you to realize how far you have come. But yet, we still have a long way to go," Allen said.