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The 1963 March on Washington

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Laila Blav

on 29 May 2014

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Transcript of The 1963 March on Washington

Key People
The 1963 March on Washington
It took place in Washington, D.C. on August 27-28, 1963.
200,000-300,000 Americans, of which 75-80 percent were black, headed to Washington on Tuesday, August 27, 1963.
On Wednesday, August 28, Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech in which he called for an end to racism.
These people marched to fight for economic equality, jobs, and freedom.
The march was put together by different groups who all had different goals going into the march.
At the end of the Civil War, African-Americans had been legally freed from slavery, elevated to the status of citizens, and the men had been given full voting rights.
Still they faced economic and political repression. A system of legal discrimination, Jim Crow Laws, were prevalent in the South, ensuring that African-Americans remained as second class citizens.
They experienced discrimination in business and government. In some places they were legally allowed to vote but were prevented by violence and intimidation.
Twenty-one states prohibited interracial marriage.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech
By Laila Blavatnik and Ava Crnkovic-Rubsamen
The Facts
The Big Six were the six people who orchestrated the march. They were: A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer, John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech was carried live by TV stations and is considered the most significant moment of the march.
President Kennedy was against this march and warned against "an atmosphere of intimidation" by bringing such a large group of people.

Photo Credits: Associated Press
The planning of the march was started in December of 1962, by A. Phillip Randolph and his longtime associate Bayard Rustin.
Their focus was the lack of employment for blacks and striving for economic equality.
As the march progressed, the Big Six became the organizers that coordinated funds and messages.
The stated purposes of the march were: meaningful civil rights laws; ending racial segregation in public schools; protection for demonstrators against police brutality; a major public-works program to provide jobs; the passage of a law prohibiting racial discrimination in hiring; a $2 an hour minimum wage; and self-government for the District of Columbia,
A. Philip Randolph proposed a first march in 1941. But, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was not enthusiastic about the plan.
After many efforts to persuade Randolph and his fellow leaders that the march would be inadvisable, Roosevelt passed Executive Order 8802 in June 1941. This Executive Order prohibited discrimination by any defense contractors and establishing the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to investigate charges of racial discrimination. Because of this, the March on Washington was canceled. This was a victory, but a small one. The FEPC went out of existence in 1946.
As people of color faced continuing discrimination in the post-war years, Randolph and his fellow leader met annually to reiterate the need for racial equality.
In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement transformed the political climate. Randolph began to plan a new March on Washington in 1963.
The Outcome of the March on Washington was a raised awareness for the problems of racial inequality.
After the March, political leaders were more active in trying to get Civil Rights Acts passed.
It was very successful and is known as one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history.
According to the New York Times, "It was the greatest assembly for a redress of grievances this capital has ever seen." (6)
In the months after the march, ongoing demonstrations, like the Selma to Montgomery marches, continued to pressure political leaders to act. Following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson was able to break through the legislative stalemate of Congress and pass Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
These were both huge turning points in the Civil Rights Movement.

Primary Sources:
5) Original footage from "I Have A Dream" Speech
6) New York Times Original Report of the March on Washington: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/777952/new-york-times-coverage-of-the-march-on-washington.pdf
4) http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/march-on-washington
Richard C. Hoagland
How did JFK's opposition to the March reflect upon his beliefs during his presidency?

JFK's opposition spoke about how he didn't take the Civil Rights movement seriously and didn't strive to make significant change for the black community. He was anti-segregation, but feared backlash from southern voters if he took a stance against discrimination of blacks.
What lessons were learned by American society by the success of the March on Washington?

The March on Washington was extremely influential on other activist groups, including women's rights and gay rights. It proved to society how not only were American ideals real, but you could stand up to the Government, have a voice, and make a change in your country. It also showed how the Civil Rights movement was very real, and it was a problem that had to be addressed by political leaders.
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