Some days, he still walks down to the Lincoln Memorial to stand where they all once stood.
Robert Avery knew the dark side of the civil rights movement. A month after the student protests in Birmingham, Alabama, turned violent, Avery -- 15 years old at the time -- joined anti-segregation demonstrations in Gadsden, Alabama. Police responded with force, cracking down with batons and prods, and arresting more than 460.
Avery still lives with burn scars from a cattle prod.
Months later, Avery and two of his friends were determined to get to Washington for the March on Washington. They couldn't afford to make the trip via traditional means, so they decided to hitchhike the 700 miles between Gadsden and the nation's capital.
They walked at least a dozen miles up a dark highway before they got their first ride. After three days of hitchhiking, they arrived in Washington a week before the march.
The three youths were put to work making signs for the march at the local headquarters.
That weekend, a civil rights leader walked in and asked for them. He had been in Gadsden the night before, and their parents wanted him to check on them.
King sat down with the three and talked to them for perhaps 20 minutes, asking them about their dreams.
Today, Avery continues to serve as a city councilman in Gadsden, a position he has held since 1986.
Harry Belafonte, a popular actor and Grammy Award-winning singer in the 1960s, used his star power to help bring other celebrities to the March on Washington.
"For myself personally -- beyond raising money, beyond speaking at events that helped to raise money to bring citizens to the Mall -- my task, my larger task, was to organize a cultural contingency to come to the March on Washington," Belafonte reflected.
Besides reaching out to the stars themselves, Belafonte went to many of the studio heads in Hollywood to get prominent actors and actresses temporarily released from their duties so they could participate.
He was successful. The Hollywood list of attendees that day read like a who's who of A-listers: Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Charlton Heston and Burt Lancaster, who also gave a speech.
But having the Hollywood stars there wasn't just for show or for increased media attention. It also helped calm President John F. Kennedy's nerves about the march.
"I believe that their presence did a lot to assuage people who are preoccupied with the fact there could be violence," Belafonte said.
"One of the things that I said in my conversations with the Kennedys in discussing why they should be more yielding in their support of our demonstration was the fact that there would be such a presence of highly profiled artists -- that that alone would put anxiety to rest," he added.
"People would be looking at the occasion in a far more festive way."
Belafonte continued his acting and singing career, and today, at 86, he is still an activist for human rights causes.
Rachelle Horowitz took a break from her job at the Worker's Defense League in 1963 to be in charge of March on Washington transportation -- despite the fact she couldn't even drive.
"And I was totally horrified and frightened about this notion," she said. "And I said something that also in retrospect seems fairly silly. 'How can I be the transportation director? I can't drive,' which I couldn't. I was a New Yorker. And also I had lost my bus on every previous march."
But with the encouragement of her mentor and future lifelong colleague, march organizer Bayard Rustin, Horowitz proceeded to organize all the buses, trains and planes for the more than 200,000 people who attended the march that day.
In a time long before e-mail and Facebook, this was no easy task. Horowitz used a system of 5x3 index cards and massive lists attached to the office walls to keep track of all the various travel options.