Restaurant Fed Marchers 50 Years Ago, Will Feed Them This Weeken - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Restaurant Fed Marchers 50 Years Ago, Will Feed Them This Weekend

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Washington, D.C. -

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Martin Luther King's iconic "I Have A Dream" speech.  And one local restaurant will be there to feed the marchers -- just like it did 50 years ago.  Sunlen Miller has the story.

These half smokes and cheese fries helped fuel the movement.

"We had people coming in to have something to eat before going to the march," said Virginia Ali, Co-owner of Ben's Chili Bowl.

5 decades ago, Virginia Ali, co-owner of the diner "Ben's Chili Bowl," fed marchers then delivered her food straight to the National Mall.

"When those words were spoken, ‘I Have A Dream,' we just grabbed each other and thought this is profound," remembers Ali.

And as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech, perhaps it's fitting, Ben's celebrates its own anniversary too, 55 years of service.  The shared history of the two not lost on the political and civil rights leaders who showed up to celebrate.

Perhaps Ben's most loyal customer?  Actor Bill Cosby.  He says this generation should ask whether they are doing enough.

"I think they should honor the march by making that particular resolution through themselves," said Bill Cosby.

And as Ali delivers food once again to marchers this year, the parallel brings back memories, like what King might think walking into the same diner today.

"I think he would still feel there's things to be done," said Ali.

Ali says that's at least how she feels.

"The dream is a work in progress," said Ali.

But 55 years later, after a diner-side seat to history, hers has been realized.

"We just opened a little business back there 55 years ago to make a living, raise a couple of kids, and that was our dream," said Ali.

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