(CNN) — Today they are lawmakers, professors and grandparents. But 50 years ago, they were the young faces of the civil rights movement, who headed to the nation’s capital — even if it meant hitchhiking — to be a part of history.
These men and women joined nearly a quarter of a million others from across the country to take part in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Some even had chance encounters with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The most famous moment of the march was King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered from a podium at the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of an estimated 210,000 people.
Photographer captures faces of the march
Many thought the event would descend into violence, but it did not. There were 5,000 police officers, National Guardsmen and Army Reservists present, but no marchers were arrested, and no incidents concerning marchers were reported.
The march was the culmination of the civil rights movement, and it is credited for helping spur lawmakers to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
There were civil rights leaders, Hollywood celebrities and thousands of ordinary people who knew it was time for the United States to give the same rights to everyone, regardless of race.
CNN caught up with a few of those marchers today. CLICK PAGE BELOW