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Hugh Crittenden

August 24, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

As a young man working in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago, Hugh Crittenden admits he “didn’t know how much discrimination was going on at the time.”

Nevertheless, he and two friends, Howard Cook and George Hungerford, took part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963. 

“I had worked at the Library of Congress, and I think they gave us leave that day” to attend the march, the Chambersburg, Pa., native said. “It was a very exciting day for us.”

Along the route of the march toward the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Crittenden and his friends were surprised to encounter King and other civil-rights leaders as they emerged from a public restroom. The march came to a halt as King, A. Philip Randolph, Walter E. Fauntroy and others at the forefront of the civil-rights movement took the lead.

“We could almost put our hands on them,” Crittenden said of their proximity to King and the others.

Of the many news photos taken that day, one that included him made the cover of Ebony magazine, Crittenden said. He had a copy, he said, but it was destroyed in a basement flood at his home.

“I didn’t realize how historic it was at the time,” said Crittenden, who was 22 then.

He was aware of the discrimination that blacks suffered in the South, but said “old-timers” such as his father, who worked at Letterkenny Army Depot, “never brought their problems home.”

In the years following the march, Crittenden became more aware of the discrimination that exists in the country.

Crittenden went to Washington in 1959. In addition to the Library of Congress, he worked at the National Institutes of Health and the International Monetary Fund as a printer until retiring in 1996, he said.

He said he has not been in contact with Cook for several years, but speaks frequently with Hungerford.

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