On August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the City of Annapolis unveiled what it claims is the first memorial to the “foot soldiers” of the March. They define foot soldiers as the 250,000 ordinary citizens who marched in the demonstration and risked the threat of personal harm to underline support for the civil rights leaders who spoke that day. The Annapolis YMCA, since demolished, was once located at this spot, now Whitmore Park, where buses congregated fifty years ago to take people to the march.
The memorial consists of three polished granite panels, measuring 13’x7’. The first panel includes a brief history of the foot soldiers, “the seamstresses, the barbers, the teachers, the ordinary people from all walks of life who chose to be present that day in 1963.” The next panel includes a list of names. A final panel includes a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.”
The $50,000 memorial was privately funded by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. Carl Snowden, chairman of the committee, spoke at the unveiling:
“The genesis behind the memorial was that, increasingly, it has become obvious that people don’t realize it is not the major personalities that make history. They are made by history. The greatest thing that came out of the march was it was the first time in history that many people of various racial backgrounds came together around the issue of civil rights. That gets lost because of the great eloquence of Dr. King. But no matter how eloquent he was, had the foot soldiers not been there, it would just have been an eloquent black preacher. . . . It would have been of little note. It was great because of the fact there were so many regular people who showed up.”