We Are the Dream: A Life Changing Moment in History

Ken Lampkin says the March on Washington opened doors of opportunity.

Posted: 08/29/2013 12:23 PM EDT

Philadelphia natives and lifelong buddies Ken Lampkin, 59, and Rick Dean 58, were too young to physically participate in the March on Washington 50 years ago, but old enough to benefit from the wisdom imparted that day.

While other kids may have been playing outdoors that day, soaking up the last of summer, Dean and Lampkin and their families were gathered in their living rooms watching the historic event unfold in black and white on TV.

"My father said that it was important and had life-changing meaning to us, and he was never more right," Lampkin said.

The march, he said, opened up doors of opportunity. A young Black man "from the hood" may not have been able to attend Temple University or earn a law degree from Rutgers in 1963, "but by the time I graduated from high school in 1972, the opportunities had opened up and they were asking us to come."

Though it may have taken Lampkin 50 years to experience a civil rights event nearly as historic as the original march, it was well worth the wait.

He was moved by the "the next generation of young people that are going to pick up the torch and carry it forward; seeing people my age who must have been here or around at the time; folks who may have gotten here in wheelchairs or using walkers, but got here, because it was important."

And like many others, he was struck by the potpourri of people from different racial, ethnic and age groups.

"It was a mixture of what America has become," Lampkin told BET.com. "And I'm proud to have lived to see it."

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(Photo: Joyce Jones/BET)

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