People gathered in downtown New Bern Thursday night to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which is less than two weeks away.

About 200 people attended the event at the North Carolina History Center.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis was guest speaker.

He's a native of Granville County, NC, and is a member of the Wilmington 10 -- a group of demonstrators jailed in the early 1970s for allegedly fire bombing a Wilmington store. They were pardoned by Governor Bev Perdue in 2012.

Dr. Chavis commented on the state's new voter identification law.

"I think the voter suppression measures that were recently passed by the North Carolina legislature, requiring a voter ID for example, is a step backwards," Dr. Chavis said. "I think it's a violation of Dr. King's dream; it's a violation of civil rights; it's a violation of human rights."

Some New Bern residents who attended the march in 1963 received medals Thursday night, in honor of their civil rights work.   

NewsChannel 12 Anchor Valentina Wilson emceed the program and talked to two people who were teens when they made the trip.