March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom


On August 28, 1963, one-hundred years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, approximately 200,000 to 250,000 people arrived in Washington, D.C., and peacefully marched down Constitution and Independence Avenues to the Lincoln Memorial, to rectify, in the words of A. Philip Randolph, “old grievances and to help resolve an American crisis.” Precipitating factors included the subjugation of African Americans to Jim Crow segregation and laws in practically every sector in society, a disproportionate level of high unemployment and unequal wages, and other forms of legal, economic, and social inequality.

A. Philip Randolph,…at the Lincoln Memorial, during 1963 March on Washington. United Press International, 1963. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

The marchers, representing rural and urban areas from every corner of the nation, arrived by train, plane, bus, and car. Newspapers reported that the marchers were young and old; black, white, and brown. They were sharecroppers and socialites. The marchers were prayerful, jubilant, and tearful; embraced each other throughout the day and sang traditional spirituals such as “Oh Freedom,” “Ain’t Gon’ Let Nobody Turn Me Round,” and “We Shall Overcome.” These supporters of the March were in Washington to introduce ten levels of demands, of which the first was the demand for comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation that would guarantee all Americans: (1) access to all public accommodations, (2) decent housing, (3) adequate and integrated education, and (4) the right to vote. Other demands included: withholding Federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists; a massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers –black and white—on meaningful and dignified jobs with decent wages.

Signs Carried By Many Marchers, during the March on Washington, 1963. Mary S. Trikosko, photographer, [Aug. 28, 1963]. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

The six primary organizers and organizations for the March were: (1) James Farmer, National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), (2) Reverend Martin Luther King, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), (3) John Lewis, Chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), (4) A. Philip Randolph, President of the Negro American Labor Organization, (5) Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and (6) Whitney Young, Executive Director of the Urban League. These leaders of prominent civil rights organizations came together to commemorate the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and to call attention to the atrocities African Americans were still experiencing. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream”External speech on this occasion.

Copy of Photograph Showing Left to Right: John Lewis, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer, and Roy Wilkins. Bill Sauro, photographer, July 4, 1963. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Prints & Photographs Division.

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew attention to the systemic racism and the discrimination which African Americans still experience in education, housing, and jobs. It also called for Federal legislation to guarantee the right to vote for all Americans.

View of the Huge Crowd from the Lincoln Memorial…during the March on Washington. Warren K. Leffler, photographer, [Aug. 28, 1963]. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Learn More

  • Explore the Rosa Parks Papers to discover additional primary sources about the March on Washington. For example, in a Subject File folder on the March, read the Organizing Manual and other materials created by the organizers.
  • Listen to A. Philip Randolph, the organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at the National Press Club two days before the March, where he explains the reasons for the March on Washington (listen to 05.00-14.09), how it serves as a model against racial bias, what it will achieve in motivating people to do something about the problem of abolishing racial violence in America, and its goal to “highlight the idea of the struggle of Negroes in America to achieve the transition from second class citizenship, to first class citizenship,” and…“bring world pressure upon the United States of America to step up the struggle to wipe out race bias.”
  • Read Protests That Changed America: The March on Washington to review selected reasons the March on Washington is considered “the most significant protest for social justice in the nation.”
  • Experience the March on Washington through images found in the collections of the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division. Selections are included in the online exhibit, A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.
  • Explore the history and lyrics of the song “We Shall Overcome.” Read “Tracing the Long Journey of “We Shall Overcome”.
  • Search on the term civil rights leaders in Today in History to read more about the lives of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Booker T. Washington, and Mary Church Terrell.
  • Explore the Civil Rights History Project. Included are interviews of several people who participated in the March on Washington as well as many other aspects of the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans. This collection seeks to record and make widely accessible interviews with people who participated in the struggles.
loc.gov

 

“I Have a Dream Speech” 8/28/1963


 

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a speech to a massive group of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.  The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brought together the nations most prominent civil rights leaders, along with tens  of thousands of marchers, to press the United States government for equality.   The culmination of this event was the influential and most memorable speech of Dr. King’s career.  Popularly known as the “I have a Dream” speech, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced  the Federal government to take more direct actions to more fully realize racial equality.

Mister Maestro, Inc., and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company recorded the speech and offered the recording for sale.   Dr. King and his attorneys claimed that the speech was copyrighted and the recording violated that copyright. The court found in favor of Dr. King. Among the papers filed in the case and available at the National Archives at New York City is a deposition given by Martin Luther King, Jr. and signed in his own hand.

RIP

-Nativegrl

The March on Washington is a people’s movement … ~~NAACP ~ ~


slideshow-2

The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder this summer shook
the very foundation of the Voting Rights Act. The very same Voting
Rights Act that brought tens of thousands of activists to march on
Washington in August, 1963.

On that hot summer day, people from every corner of our country united
for a momentous event, rallying around a shared message of civil
liberty, civil rights, and economic freedom and opportunity for all.

Fifty years later, it’s time for us to march again. The NAACP, along
with the National Action Network, Realizing the Dream, and many other
conveners will host a march in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of the March on Washington.

We remain inspired by the titans of our movement — Wilkins, Parks, King
and more — who marched at a pivotal time in the fight for civil rights.
And if our experience this year has shown us anything, it’s that we are
at another pivotal moment in history.

Discriminatory laws cripple the chances of too many people, of all ages
and backgrounds, who want nothing more than a shot at the American
Dream.

Voter disenfranchisement prevents far too many Americans from having
free and unfettered access to the ballot box, and keeps our most
vulnerable citizens from having proper representation in government.

And far, far too many of our children are gunned down in senseless acts
of violence every day. We march in the name of Trayvon Martin and other
victims of racial profiling and gun violence.

We’ve made incredible progress, but we have a long way to go. We must
carry the torch of freedom and equality forward for the next generation.
So we march again on August 24th. We march for those who have been
trampled by injustice, and for all our heroes who marched 50 years ago.
This grassroots movement belongs to you.
The size, the strength, and the power of our movement depends on you.

 

Thank you,
Ben
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP

Emmett Till ~ never forget


 

EMMETT TILL

(Photo: AP Photo/Chicago Tribune)

While visiting family in Money, Mississippi, 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African American from Chicago, is brutally murdered for flirting with a white woman four days earlier. His assailants–the white woman’s husband and her brother–made Emmett carry a 75-pound cotton-gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head, and then threw his body, tied to the cotton-gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.

Till grew up in a working-class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, and though he had attended a segregated elementary school, he was not prepared for the level of segregation he encountered in Mississippi. His mother warned him to take care because of his race, but Emmett enjoyed pulling pranks. On August 24, while standing with his cousins and some friends outside a country store in Money, Emmett bragged that his girlfriend back home was white. Emmett’s African American companions, disbelieving him, dared Emmett to ask the white woman sitting behind the store counter for a date. He went in, bought some candy, and on the way out was heard saying, “Bye, baby” to the woman. There were no witnesses in the store, but Carolyn Bryant–the woman behind the counter–claimed that he grabbed her, made lewd advances, and then wolf-whistled at her as he sauntered out.

Roy Bryant, the proprietor of the store and the woman’s husband, returned from a business trip a few days later and found out how Emmett had spoken to his wife. Enraged, he went to the home of Till’s great uncle, Mose Wright, with his brother-in-law J.W. Milam in the early morning hours of August 28. The pair demanded to see the boy. Despite pleas from Wright, they forced Emmett into their car. After driving around in the Memphis night, and perhaps beating Till in a toolhouse behind Milam’s residence, they drove him down to the Tallahatchie River.

Three days later, his corpse was recovered but was so disfigured that Mose Wright could only identify it by an initialed ring. Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, requested it be sent back to Chicago. After seeing the mutilated remains, she decided to have an open-casket funeral so that all the world could see what racist murderers had done to her only son. Jet, an African American weekly magazine, published a photo of Emmett’s corpse, and soon the mainstream media picked up on the story.

Less than two weeks after Emmett’s body was buried, Milam and Bryant went on trial in a segregated courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. There were few witnesses besides Mose Wright, who positively identified the defendants as Emmett’s killers.

On September 23, the all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before issuing a verdict of “not guilty,” explaining that they believed the state had failed to prove the identity of the body. Many people around the country were outraged by the decision and also by the state’s decision not to indict Milam and Bryant on the separate charge of kidnapping.

The Emmett Till murder trial brought to light the brutality of Jim Crow segregation in the South and was an early impetus of the African American civil rights movement.

history.com