Stevenson, who was 9 at the time, traveled from Massachusetts to Washington with his parents for the gathering, which was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The Stevensons took a bus from Massachusetts. He remembers stopping at a Howard Johnson's for lunch.
“And then from there, we went on to Washington, parked the bus, got out” and saw “thousands and thousands and thousands of people," he said.
King gave his address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“The only thing I remember is being down by the Reflecting Pool, at the end of the Reflecting Pool, and wanting to get to the other end. Being a little kid, you just want to make it through the crowd,” said Stevenson, who today lives 8 miles west of Conde.
Stevenson also remembers how the speech reverberated throughout the whole area.
But he did see King from a distance and he did listen to some of the speech, standing next to his parents.
“They tried to make me stand still, which was hard to do at that age,” said Stevenson, admitting the event didn't mean a lot to him at the time.
He knew that it was a big trip, but it wasn't until later that he realized the significance of the March on Washington. He's surprised at people's reaction when he tells them he heard King's “I Have a Dream” speech in person.
“It was a trip. I know it was historic. But it's amazing how people react when I say I was there.”
Stevenson, 59, moved to South Dakota five years ago. Before that, he'd visited the state for many years. A former member of the Ice Capades and other skating shows, he teaches skating during the winter for the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. He also worked in the financial industry in California.
When Stevenson was a youngster, his father, also named Walter, was the president of the NAACP in Massachusetts. In that position, he helped organize people in Massachusetts to go to the March on Washington. At the time, the Stevensons were living in Falmouth, Mass. He and his mother got a ride from Cape Cod to Boston in a limousine owned by a man who “wanted to go to the March on Washington, but was too old,” Stevenson recalled.
There were many buses waiting in Boston to take people to Washington, he said.
Stevenson remembers attending meetings with his father, but the March on Washington was the only time he saw King. The Stevensons were friends with Edward Brooke, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
“My dad did a lot of talking and speeches with him, and had him do a lot of speeches at different rallies.”
Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York “was another person that was in our life a little bit, but not as much as Edward Brooke.”
Stevenson's parents had memorabilia and articles that King had written.
“We tried to live the right life of being true to oneself and being as kind as possible to others, no matter what happened to us.”
It was hard for young Stevenson “being called names in school and things, being different,” he said. “But Dad always had a conversation with me, telling me that's not really them.” What he meant was the children were just repeating what they'd heard from their parents.