Can Dreams Come True? The 1963 March on Washington Gives it a Whirl.
August 28, 1963 was a day of many dreams. It was a day when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke passionately about his dream that one day his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." It was a day when over 250,000 people came to D.C. with a dream of equal rights for all.
"It will be one of our greatest American experiences-creative, constructive, inspirational," predicted A. Philip Randolph. He was the lead organizer of what became one of the largest peaceful actions of the civil rights movement: the 1963 March on Washington.
The pay gap between blacks and whites had widened. Civil rights leaders decided to show the nation that their cause included more than just the right to sit on a bus. They wanted equal access to education, jobs, and good housing. There was a need to make these ideas clear to the American people, but to do so without any violence.
So, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was formed. Randolph became the leader of this huge march.
Can you imagine the moving hundreds of thousands of people into a city, feeding and housing them and then moving them out again? It was no easy task. The organizers had to think of everything they would need, from public toilets to doctors and nurses. Local churches and government groups gave them first aid units, mobile toilets, blankets, rest facilities, trashcans, and drinking water.
The marchers hit D.C. like a storm, arriving in the morning and meeting at the Washington Monument. They had signs that read "We demand decent housing NOW!" and "We march for jobs for all NOW!" At noon, they marched to the Lincoln Memorial for singing, speeches and prayers.
The most famous words of that day came from Martin Luther King Jr. His wonderful "I Have a Dream" speech captured the ears and the hearts of the American people.Click here to see the full text of the speech.
The March was a day of coming together for peace and equality. It allowed ordinary men and women to participate in an incredible part of history.
A year later, President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act made much of what the marchers had asked for into law.
I was not part of the March on Washington. I was not even alive then. But, by learning about our history, I became very interested in civil rights. And I got to learn all about this important time in our country.
Remember, the dream that people had who started this march: equal rights and justice for all, not some.
We owe it to the 250,000 marchers, we owe it to A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King…and we owe it to ourselves, to make this dream come true.
Familiar Faces / Three Months Earlier…
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Links to Other Dispatches
Jennifer - No, it's not a warzone. It's Selma, Alabama
Stephanie - Get on the bus, it's time for equality