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Orange councilwoman shares memories of March on Washington on anniversary

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Adam Wright and Essie Bellfield Adam Wright and Essie Bellfield
ORANGE -

Former Orange Mayor and current city councilwoman Essie Bellfield was 31-years-old when she hopped on a bus headed for the nation's capital, where she would participate in the historic March on Washington.

"I've always been for the rights of all people, I was reared that way," Bellfield told 12News Wednesday, which marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Bellfield is the last surviving person from Orange who attended the march. She's now 81, and still remembers that special day.

"We never had anybody fussing or fighting, there were police everywhere, but we were respectful people. It was a peaceful protest," said Bellfield. "It was just inspiring, it made me feel like I am an American."

She still has pictures she took of the thousands who gathered at the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.

"I sat around Lincoln's feet, I was right on his toes," she said.

Exactly 50 years later, thousands gathered in Washington once again to honor those who marched for civil rights. Bellfield wasn't there this time, but admires those who were.

"I think it's a good thing for commemorating what happened 50 years ago, for the young people. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."    

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