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March On Washington (10483 hits)

 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom


Background and Summary

The March on Washington (for Jobs and Freedom) was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. During the march, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. As many as 250,000 people took part in the march; it is estimated that 200,000 were Black and 50,000 were White.

The march was initiated by A. Philip Randolph, international president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He had planned a similar march back in 1941. The threat of the earlier march had convinced President Roosevelt to establish the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and to bar discriminatory hiring in the defense industry.

The 1963 march was also organized by Whitney Young, president of the National Urban League; Roy Wilkins, president of the NAACP; James Farmer, president of the Congress of Racial Equality; John Lewis, president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and  finally, King, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Bayard Rustin, a civil rights veteran and organizer of the 1947 “Journey of Reconciliation” administered fliers with all of the the details of the march.

The march was not universally supported. Some civil rights activists were concerned that it might turn violent, which could undermine pending legislation and damage the international image of the movement. For example, the march was condemned by the Malcolm X, spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, who termed it the "farce on Washington."

National media attention greatly contributed to the march's national exposure and probable impact. In his section, "The March on Washington and Television News," William Thomas noted: "Over 500 cameramen, technicians and correspondents from the major networks were set to cover the event. More cameras would be set up than had filmed the last presidential inauguration.” By airing the organizers' speeches and offering commentary, television stations literally framed the way local audiences saw and understood the event and its magnitude.

Although one of the officially stated purposes of the march was to support the civil rights bill introduced by the Kennedy Administration, several of the speakers criticized the proposed law as insufficient. Lewis said that without "meaningful legislation," Blacks would "march through the South." Floyd McKissick read James Farmer's speech because Farmer had been arrested during a protest in Louisiana; Farmer had written that the protests would not stop "until the dogs stop biting us in the South and rats stop biting us in the North. The march is widely credited as a major factor in American history and in the entire Civil Rights Movement because it lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  Sources:; A "Dream" Remembered, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Manning Marable and Leith Mullings, Freedom: A Photographic History of the African American Struggle, London: Phaidon, 2002; Kate Tuttle, "March on Washington, 1963", Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, New York: Perseus, 1999;  Juan Williams, Eyes on The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, New York: Viking, 1987.

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Wednesday, December 19th 2007 at 5:59PM
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i love this i read this whole thing over 10 times
Tuesday, February 5th 2008 at 11:56AM
i love this i read this whole thing over 10 times
Tuesday, February 5th 2008 at 11:57AM
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