2 Pittsburghers remember March on Washington 60 years later


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In August 1963, Sala Udin was a young man living in New York, uncertain about his purpose. And Carrie McCray was a young wife and mother of seven living in Pittsburgh. Both would go on to experience a moment in history that would change their lives.

During the 1960s, Sala Udin was a teenager. He was searching for something, and it wasn't in Pittsburgh.

"I had dropped out of school in Pittsburgh and ran away from home," Udin said.

His destination: New York City, Harlem. But he wasn't there long. He had two aunts in Staten Island.

"They scooped me up out of Harlem, saved my life and got me back into high school and so I was able to finish high school in New York," Udin said.

📲/💻: STREAMING ON CBS News Pittsburgh: Still Marching: The March on Washington - 60 Years
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It was 1962 when as a member of the NAACP Youth Council in New York, Udin heard about plans for a large demonstration in Washington.

"And Dr. Martin Luther King was going to be the keynote speaker," Udin said.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, Carrie McCray also had plans to attend the march.

"I'd heard my husband's job, he worked for the Post Office, was going to get a bus, I figured there'd be room for me," McCray said.

However, her husband Leon decided she should stay home and watch their seven children. But Carrie McCray found a way.

"I didn't tell my husband I was going," she said. "I went past my mother's house and found out she would keep the children that day. So I said, 'now is my chance.' So when he left to get on the Post Office bus, I had called a cab and took my children and took them to my mother's and took the cab on down to the NAACP bus."

"Had my foot on a bus and I felt this hand on my shoulder. It was my husband, he said, 'What are you doing down here?' I said, 'I'm going to the March on Washington.'"

"I had never seen that many people," Udin said. "Certainly never seen that many Black people in my life before."

Carrie McCray remembers the crowds as well. She ended up riding on the bus with her husband. And she remembers where she was in the crowd and what she could see.

"I was close enough that I could see A. Philip Randolph, because I was familiar with him, behind Dr. King. And I could see Dr. King," McCray said.

"I wanted to be a part of history, and I was from Alabama. That's why it was so important that I went."

Udin says the atmosphere was very different for him. He'd never experienced anything like it.

"They were singing and clapping and stomping and praying and shouting and it was a major, major celebration," Udin said.

Hearing words like "let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania" and "let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi," Udin says the speech answered questions for him.

"Who am I? What are you doing with your life, where are you going, where are you headed?" he said.

Udin went on to spend four years in Mississippi as a Freedom Rider. He's a former Pittsburgh City councilmember and current Pittsburgh School Board president.

And as for Carrie McCray, she said, "It changed my life with my children. It made me appreciate -- it made me appreciate life period."

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