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Rockledge woman wants the no-name ‘foot soldiers’ of civil rights movement to be remembered

Rosemary McGill, 75, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Florida

Rosemary McGill marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rosemary McGill marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Courtesy)

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – A Rockledge grandmother might be one of the only people you can still meet in Central Florida who can say she marched with the civil rights movement's greatest icon.

At the 50-year mark of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death in 2018, Rosemary McGill told News 6 while Rosa Parks was her inspiration to get involved, she considered King the “anointed one” of the civil rights movement.

McGill attended the March on Washington in 1963 where King delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech.

"That was a moment of euphoria," McGill said as she shared a news clipping with her in the crowd watching King at the National Mall in Washington.

Rosemary McGill points to a news photograph showing her in the crowd during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at the National Mall in Washington.
Rosemary McGill points to a news photograph showing her in the crowd during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at the National Mall in Washington. (News 6)

In a new conversation with News 6 in recognition of this year’s Black History Month, McGill also wanted to remember the thousands of people who joined her in attendance that day and the many other activists who, like her, were not in the national spotlight.

"Whenever you look at that picture again, and you see all of those people, they were black, white, Native American. They were from other nations in lock with Dr. King," McGill said.

She was able to meet her idol and march with him the following year in St. Augustine.

McGill said he was just like anyone else.

"Dr. King wanted the same things that all Americans want and we did it with peaceful demonstration," she said.

Brooke McGill says she hopes early supporters are remembered during Black History Month.
Brooke McGill says she hopes early supporters are remembered during Black History Month. (News 6)

Over the years, McGill has been featured in national news publications and television shows.

"We did what we did because we were born on the right side of history," she said.

And McGill hopes for future stories about black history, credit can also be given to the non-central figures of the movement whose names are not remembered the way Americans remember King.

“They were foot soldiers. Nobody knows their names or where they came from, we just see a large crowd. So when you go back and continue to tell the stories, that to me is important. Not so much that you call my name, but that you’re identifying some of those foot soldiers,” she said.


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