August 28

August 28, 1963 –  The March On Washington

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March on Washington (1963)

One of the largest if not the greatest march ever on Washington, DC occurred on August 28, 1963. It is estimated that over 250,000 Americans of which approximately 75 to 80 percent were African American joined in “The March On Washington”. People from all over the country made their way to the nations capital to demand civil and economic rights. The march brought a broad representation of people from different cultures, economic classes and races together to perhaps create the greatest positive social impact of that day upon the civil rights movement. It is believed that the march had a major effect upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Rev. Martin Luther King - March on Washington

Rev. Martin Luther King – March on Washington

The initial plans for the march were begun by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin in 1962. In June of 1963 a group named the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership was formed to further implement the march. A. Philip Randolph was selected as the primary leader with other organizations represented by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), James Farmer ( Congress of Racial Equality), John Lewis (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Roy Wilkins (NAACP), Whitney Young (National Urban League) and Bayard Rustin as a deputy organizer.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. (Leaders of the march leading marchers down the street.) - NARA - 542003

Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph and Walter P. Reuther lead marchers down the street.

The trip to the march was a difficult and often frightening experience for many persons travelling without the luxuries of hotels, convenience of available food and water, and the lack of restrooms or segregated ones for  travelling African Americans in a Jim Crow South.  There was also the fear and intimidation that was ever present for participants who put their jobs and personal and family safety in jeopardy by going to the march.  But yet they came by the thousands by plane, train, car, bus and foot to hear the need for change as orated by the speakers and to perhaps hear the most powerful speech of our times (I have a dream) by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr..