MOW Diary: Paying It Forward

Texas native Priscilla Harden pays tribute to past and future generations at the March on Washington.

Posted: 08/24/2013 05:04 PM EDT

(Photo: Joyce Jones/BET)

Fifty years ago, Priscilla Harden was 13 years old and virtually exploding with frustration from the injustices she saw on her black-and-white television screen. She felt "entrapped" and "stressed" by her inability do anything, the resident of Sugarland, Texas, told BET.com.

Harden was too young to attend the original event. But like many others at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, she wouldn't have dreamed of staying away today.

In addition to fulfilling an old dream, it reinforced lessons learned from her now-deceased mother about the importance of civic engagement.

"I came today because we can be one of three things: a group of people who make things happen, who watch things happen or who wonder what happened," the retired educator said, tearing up a bit. "I've never wondered what happened without looking for an answer or talked about something without doing something about it. And I got that from my mother, who always said to leave world in a better place than you found it."

The flowers on the handmade parasol she carried at the march are a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, A. Philip Randolph and others who devoted both their time and, in some cases, gave their lives to the civil rights struggle.

"I came today because I'm standing on the shoulders of wonderful human beings whom I've never met but who thought enough of us to see about us," Harden said. "How dare me to sit at home and not think enough of us and those who will come behind us to not be a part of this march? If we don't do anything to help make life better for future generations' futures, shame on us."

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