News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 21, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga. --- People came together in Augusta this morning, holding hands trying to unite together as one. But is it any better today than it was in 1963?
They're marching for justice. They want to end racial segregation. They want everyone to stop being afraid, and to speak up.
Gerald Rose is taking his message to the street.
"People in Augusta are afraid and scared to speak up. We can't have that mentality," says Rose.
And on this, the 22nd observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day across the nation, Gerald admits there are problems in this community but thinks the biggest issue here in Augusta is, "unity and not being afraid. If we could just love each other and show some unity."
Just a bay when Dr. King gave his 'I have a dream' speech, he remembers his dream and doesn't think we are much better off today than we were in 1963.
"Because we're not sticking together and we're afraid. Yes, we have a long way to go. I know Dr. King is disappointed where we are right now," says Rose.
But he's seen some positive after a racially-tense 2007 -- highlighted by the Jena 6 -- 2008 could be promising. Especially with black people in leadership positions.
"We possibly could have the first black President that's running for the United States of America and I'm looking at these polls. That's very impressive," says Rose.
Annie Blackshear calls Augusta home for her entire life. She was told to sit in the back of the bus and now today, she sees some positive changes too.
"Black and white, they sort of are getting together a lot. But, not like they should be," says Annie.
And, at the Dr. King celebration by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Alexander Smith agrees.
"I think there has been tremendous progress in the area of race relations. But there is still a long way to go," says Rev. Smith.
"This is 2008. We got to stop this. This is just uncalled for," says Rose.