Gay Cobb vividly remembers having no other choice but to ride in the back of the bus and the "colored only" signs at restaurants and stores.
And when she looks back on her life in the 1950s and 1960s she is humbled to see how far America has come as a nation.
"To be a part of that generation and to have observed the changes in America since then is just profoundly humbling," she said.
Cobb, a CEO of the Oakland Private Industry Council, also attended Dr. Martin Luther King's famous Washington D.C. speech.
The "I Have A Dream" speech for her brought about hope for the future.
"We were all in it," she said. "We could see our brothers and sisters in the south -- very, very brave young people who were willingly and did put their lives on the line. We felt this was the least we could do."
Looking back on her journey to hear Dr. King speak, Cobb said, "I think it's a very unusual experience I've had and I'm very grateful."
View more in Cheryl Hurd's video report above.