Editor’s Note: With this online package and several pieces you may have noticed in recent issues of our magazine, ESSENCE is marking the 50th anniversary of 1963, a watershed year in the civil rights movement. As we reflect on that era and its lessons, ESSENCE.com is partnering with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to record and preserve the personal histories of diverse Americans — including those Black Americans who were witness to the times and to our struggle for equality.

Lawrence Cumberbatch walked from New York City to Washington D.C. to participate in the original March on Washington. The 16-year-old trekked along the highway from sunrise to sunset for 13 straight days.

Here, Lawrence tells his son Simeon how his parents tried to dissuade him from the journey and why he felt he must participate.