LYNCHBURG, Va. – In January 1962, Owen Cardwell and the late Lynda Woodruff were the first African-American students to attend E.C. Glass High School.
"It wasn't done in the sense that, 'OK, we're doing something history-making here. It was more out of sense of justice,” Cardwell said.
Two months after Cardwell and Woodruff's brave act, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Lynchburg and spoke with the teenagers and community members.
"After the rally we went back to Dr. Jackson's house and we sat on the floor with Dr. King singing freedom songs. I mean it was an awe-inspiring time,” Cardwell said.
April 4 marks 50 years since King's death. Local pastors and leaders have planned a unity in our community gathering in the very same place King made an impact for those, who Dr. James Coleman say faced unifying challenges in the Hill City.
"Here we are in 2018 and some of those things still exist. But now at the heart of the city leadership and all of us who make up the city, we're going to do our part to bring true unity in the community," Coleman, co-organizer of "Unity in Our Community," said.
Now 71 years old, Cardwell said the history of the civil rights movement is all proof how young people can make a change. And he encourages those who plan to "March for Our Lives" in Washington, D.C., this weekend, Cardwell said, "To keep up the pressure. And understand how very important their work is going to be. Particularly as they begin to become of voting age and have opportunity not just to protest about it but vote their conscience."
The Unity in Our Community event will be on April 3 at 6- 8 p.m. at E.C. Glass High School