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"We still have a lot of work to do" Philadelphia pastor reflects on meeting MLK 60 years after March on Washington

Still Marching: Philadelphia pastor reflects on meeting MLK and 60 years after March on Washington
Still Marching: Philadelphia pastor reflects on meeting MLK and 60 years after March on Washington 04:03

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia pastor has a touching connection to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. having met him as a young child. It was a few years after the March on Washington.

Now 60 years after the historic march, we sat down with Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller to reflect on that day and the impact the civil rights leader had on his life.

"The March on Washington 60 years ago was a real symbol of the Black church becoming the conscience of America," Waller said. "It's where Dr. King gave a real vision and even explanation of the work that had already been done and the work that is left to do."

The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington leads to reflection and a mindful renewal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.

RELATED: Philadelphia resident remembers March on Washington as 60th anniversary approaches

"Dr. King was pointing towards what is still yet to be done and that's where I think we come in," he said.

Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church Pastor Waller leads one of the biggest congregations in the Philadelphia area. He told us how the March on Washington changed the country and the strides that still need to be made decades later.

He has a very special connection to Dr. King, summed up in a picture proudly displayed in his church office, taken four years after the March on Washington.

CBS News Philadelphia.

"Dr. King and my father were friends and Dr. King was preaching," Waller said. "That picture of me sitting on Dr. King's lap in September of 1967. He was preaching my father, Dr. Alfred Waller, his fourth pastoral anniversary at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio."

Pastor Waller was three and a half years old in the picture but this moment sparked a profound movement even at that young age, leading to his pastoral and community activist role.

"I'm proud of my dad because that September 1967 and it was a time when a lot of Black churches had run away from Dr. King," he said. "A lot of people had run away from Dr. King because at that time Dr. King is talking about reparation, he's talking about economic justice."

The march and the years after catapulted the nation into a fierce fight for freedom, social justice and equality. An end to violence and poverty for Black Americans.

More than a quarter million people participated in the historic march. A sea of connected souls, as far as the eye could see gathered near the Lincoln Memorial.

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"We have to learn to celebrate what he did but recognize that he didn't reach the finish line," Waller said. "In fact, he said so. He said 'I've seen the promise land, I might not get there with you.' He gave us a great legacy to live up to. I still believe in this country but we still have a lot of work to do."

While we will never hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful voice again, his iconic speech is indelibly etched in our nation's history as the fight for the world he envisioned lives on.

For Pastor Waller, the present-day work to continue the outreach Dr. King started will not require just a single charismatic leader but what he describes as a committed quorum of diverse and disciplined community members.

Tune in to the "Still Marching" special on CBS News Philadelphia

Monday night at 7 p.m. on CBS News Philadelphia, Ukee Washington will host an hour-long special called "Still Marching."

It will be held 60 years to the day that King delivered the "I Have a Dream" speech.

And if you're watching on our streaming channel, you can catch the special early!

You can see it wherever CBS News Philadelphia is streaming, and throughout the entire weekend.

The special airs:
Saturday - 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
Sunday - 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 10 p.m.
Monday - 7 p.m.  

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