​August 28, 1963: The March On Washington For Jobs And Freedom

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Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech advocating racial harmony during the march.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. The chief organizer was Mr. Bayard Rustin (1st picture, 2nd row), he was also a lead advisor to Rev. King. 

The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, under the theme “jobs, and freedom.” 

Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 (police) to over 300,000 (leaders of the march). Observers estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were black and the rest were white and non-black minorities.

The march is widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). More than 2,000 buses, 21 special trains, 10 chartered airliners, and uncounted cars converged on Washington. All regularly scheduled planes, trains, and buses were also filled to capacity.

The march began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial with a program of music and speakers. The march failed to start on time because its leaders were meeting with members of Congress. To the leaders’ surprise, the assembled group began to march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial without them.

The 1963 March also spurred anniversary marches that occur every five years, with the 20th and 25th being some of the most well known.

The 25th Anniversary theme was “We Still have a Dream: Jobs*Peace*Freedom.”

SINGERS: ?Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson sang “How I Got Over”

?Musician Bob Dylan performed several songs, including “Only a Pawn in Their Game”, about the culturally fed racial hatred amongst Southern whites that led to the assassination of Medgar Evers; and “When the Ship Comes In”, during which he was joined by fellow folk singer Joan Baez, who earlier had led the crowds in several verses of “We Shall Overcome” and “Oh Freedom”.

?Peter, Paul and Mary sang “If I Had a Hammer” and Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”.

?Marian Anderson sang at the march as well.


SPEAKERS: ?
King gave his famous I Have a Dream speech, which was carried live by TV stations.

?Representatives from each of the sponsoring organizations addressed the crowd from the podium at the Lincoln Memorial.

?Speakers included all six civil-rights leaders of the so called, “Big Six”; Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish religious leaders; and labor leader Walter Reuther.

?Daisy Bates and Josephine Baker were the only women to speak.

?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 the rats stop biting us in the North.”

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