Even the rumbling freight trains on the tracks beyond the tent didn't deter the message, delivered to a riveted audience of hundreds.
Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd at Union Station Saturday.
Obama credits much of his ascent to the U.S. Senate to the strides made here in Alabama, but he doesn't want what we've accomplished in 50 years overshadow the challenges that still lie ahead.
Obama says, "We still have young men and women who don't have educational opportunity, don't have job opportunities. They're still struggling with issues like substance abuse or incarceration, so we still have a lot of work that remains to be done."
One of Alabama's gifts to the world was a simple gesture made by Rosa Parks, the seamstress-turned-civil rights icon. 50 years later, people reflect on how her legacy will be remembered.
Martin Luther King, III, also spoke Saturday. He told WSFA 12 News, "The real challenge is how do we address the future of this country which is what Ms. Parks would wants us to do."
King's father is heralded as the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, but behind him were thousands of men and women who beg not to forgotten.
Founder of the Southern Women's Leadership Development Institute, Doris Crenshaw, says,"What stands out to me is the willingness and eagerness of young people to get involved and make things better for themselves."
Obama says, "If we really want to make significant changes in the next 50 years, then we're going to have to focus on the nuts and bolts issues of educating our children."
Saturday's luncheon was hosted by the Southern Women's Leadership Institute.
Reporter: Theo Travers