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'I never felt so proud': Local man looks back on 1968 Newport News protest and how far we've come

25th Street Bridge in Newport News
Posted at 9:58 PM, Jun 04, 2020

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - “This is history; I held on to it,” said Charles Curry, a Newport News and Hampton native.

A newspaper article written in the late 60s is what he still holds on to, showing something we are still witnessing today.

“I was 13 years old when Martin Luther King was assassinated in April of ’68,” he said.

Several days after Dr. King was killed, Curry’s father told him to get dressed, “and my father said, ‘We are going to march!'"

The march started at the Doris Miller Community Center in Newport News to the 25th Street bridge where the photo featuring thousands of people was taken.

Curry says, “We sang songs over the bridge, ‘We Shall Overcome.'"

The march ended with a prayer where he now sits looking at the Victory Arch, reminiscing on his childhood and thinking about how far we have - and haven't - come.

“I’m 65. I never thought we would revert back to racism and inequality,” he adds.

Related: Hampton NAACP president reflects on living through 1967 Detroit riots

The original 25th Street bridge is no longer at the end of the road, but what does still stand is the Victory Arch. Curry says it’s a sign and a reminder that the community can overcome if they stick together.

“Keep fighting for what is right, and things will change,” he adds.

He says this will happen only if you’re patient, willing to listen and willing to put in the work.

“I never felt so proud, that day in my life,” said Curry as he looks at the picture on that day in April in 1968.

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