The affordable education loan option
Washington - Fifty years to the day after he heard Martin Luther King declare “I have a dream,” Carter McLaughlin has a dream of his own - to see his son's career aspirations come true.
McLaughlin was 14 when he joined the March on Washington, which the United States marks Wednesday with President Barack Obama speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where King delivered his iconic address.
“I wanted to bring my son here because it was special to me, but there's not as many people as I expected,” said McLaughlin as he stood on the US capital's National Mall where he heard King speak a half-century earlier.
Back then it was sunny, hot and humid, but there was “a lot of optimism for the future,” remembered the longtime civil servant alongside his tall, soft-spoken 18-year-old son Philip.
“You had a lot of civil rights activism going on - and this was a hub,” he said of Washington at the time.
On Thursday, skies were grey, and light rain came and went - no doubt putting a damper on turnout.
Security checks forced members of the public to wait an hour or more for their turn to enter the section of the Mall cordoned off for the commemoration.
Police closed key roads and bridges nearby. The federal government asked employees to work from home if possible. Heavy construction vehicles, meanwhile, were told to stay out of town for the day.
McLaughlin said he wouldn't miss Wednesday for the world, and neither would his son.
“I did really want to share this with my dad, because this is a really beautiful moment, seeing the impact that one genuinely good man can have on generations,” the younger McLaughlin said.
In the space of a generation, he said, “racism definitely is not as prevalent, and we're thankful for that.”
America has become “more of a melting point and things are not as sensitive” as they were when racial segregation was the officially-sanctioned norm in many states, he added.
But “there's always newer problems” that have people fighting over things they needn't clash over, he said, citing sexual orientation as an example.
His concerns, however, are more focused on realizing the American dream of securing a good job - in his case, as a developer of video games, something unheard of in his father's youth.
And the elder McLaughlin's dream?
“To see his come true,” he replied, turning to his son, smiling.