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However, the meeting became antagonistic, as black delegates felt that Kennedy did not have a full understanding of the race problem in the nation. The public failure of the meeting, which came to be known as the Baldwin—Kennedy meeting , underscored the divide between the needs of Black America and the understanding of Washington politicians.
However, the meeting also provoked the Kennedy administration to take action on the civil rights for African-Americans. Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio, announcing that he would begin to push for civil rights legislation—the law which eventually became the Civil Rights Act of That night, Mississippi activist Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway, further escalating national tension around the issue of racial inequality.
Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin began planning the march in December They envisioned two days of protest, including sit-ins and lobbying followed by a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial. They wanted to focus on joblessness and to call for a public works program that would employ blacks.
In early they called publicly for "a massive March on Washington for jobs". The unionists offered tentative support for a march that would be focused on jobs. In June , leaders from several different organizations formed the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership , an umbrella group which would coordinate funds and messaging.
King in particular had become well known for his role in the Birmingham campaign and for his Letter from Birmingham Jail. About two months before the march, the Big Six broadened their organizing coalition by bringing on board four white men who supported their efforts: Together, the Big Six plus four became known as the "Big Ten.
The six of us, plus the four. We became like brothers. On June 22, the organizers met with President Kennedy, who warned against creating "an atmosphere of intimidation" by bringing a large crowd to Washington. The civil rights activists insisted on holding the march. Wilkins pushed for the organizers to rule out civil disobedience and described this proposal as the "perfect compromise".
King and Young agreed. Leaders from CORE and SNCC, who wanted to conduct direct actions against the Department of Justice, endorsed the protest before they were informed that civil disobedience would not be allowed. Finalized plans for the March were announced in a press conference on July 2. Mobilization and logistics were administered by Rustin, a civil rights veteran and organizer of the Journey of Reconciliation , the first of the Freedom Rides to test the Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel.
Rustin was a long-time associate of both Randolph and Dr. With Randolph concentrating on building the march's political coalition, Rustin built and led the team of two hundred activists and organizers who publicized the march and recruited the marchers, coordinated the buses and trains, provided the marshals, and set up and administered all of the logistic details of a mass march in the nation's capital.
The march was not universally supported among civil rights activists. Some, including Rustin who assembled 4, volunteer marshals from New York , were concerned that it might turn violent, which could undermine pending legislation and damage the international image of the movement. March organizers themselves disagreed over the purpose of the march.
Although in years past, Randolph had supported "Negro only" marches, partly to reduce the impression that the civil rights movement was dominated by white communists, organizers in agreed that whites and blacks marching side by side would create a more powerful image. The Kennedy Administration cooperated with the organizers in planning the March, and one member of the Justice Department was assigned as a full-time liaison.
To avoid being perceived as radical, organizers rejected support from Communist groups. However, some politicians claimed that the March was Communist-inspired, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI produced numerous reports suggesting the same.
Sullivan produced a lengthy report on August 23 suggesting that Communists had failed to appreciably infiltrate the civil rights movement, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover rejected its contents. Organizers worked out of a building at West th St. By August 2, they had distributed 42, of the buttons. Their goal was a crowd of at least , people. As the march was being planned, activists across the country received bomb threats at their homes and in their offices.
The Los Angeles Times received a message saying its headquarters would be bombed unless it printed a message calling the president a "Nigger Lover". Five airplanes were grounded on the morning of August 28 due to bomb threats. Roy Wilkins was threatened with assassination if he did not leave the country. Thousands traveled by road, rail, and air to Washington D. Marchers from Boston traveled overnight and arrived in Washington at 7am after an eight-hour trip, but others took much longer bus rides from places like Milwaukee, Little Rock, and St.
Organizers persuaded New York's MTA to run extra subway trains after midnight on August 28, and the New York City bus terminal was busy throughout the night with peak crowds. Maryland police reported that "by 8: One reporter, Fred Powledge, accompanied African-Americans who boarded six buses in Birmingham, Alabama, for the mile trip to Washington.
The New York Times carried his report:. The demonstrators, of all ages, carried picnic baskets, water jugs, Bibles and a major weapon - their willingness to march, sing and pray in protest against discrimination.
They gathered early this morning [August 27] in Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park , where state troopers once [four months previous in May] used fire hoses and dog to put down their demonstrations. It was peaceful in the Birmingham park as the marchers waited for the buses. The police, now part of a moderate city power structure, directed traffic around the square and did not interfere with the gathering An old man commented on the hour ride, which was bound to be less than comfortable: We don't have the money to fly in airplanes.
Contrary to the mythology, the early moments of the March—getting there—was no picnic. We didn't know what we would meet. There was no precedent. Sitting across from me was a black preacher with a white collar. He was an AME preacher. Every now and then, people on the bus sang 'Oh Freedom' and 'We Shall Overcome,' but for the most part there wasn't a whole bunch of singing. We were secretly praying that nothing violent happened. Other bus rides featured racial tension, as black activists criticized liberal white participants as fair-weather friends.
Rivers stated that she was impressed by Washington's civility: They treat you much nicer. Why, when I was out there at the march a white man stepped on my foot, and he said, "Excuse me," and I said "Certainly!
I believe that was the first time a white person has ever really been nice to me. Some participants who arrived early held an all-night vigil outside the Department of Justice , claiming it had unfairly targeted civil rights activists and that it had been too lenient on white supremacists who attacked them.
A total of 5, police officers were on duty. The Pentagon readied 19, troops in the suburbs. For the first time since Prohibition , liquor sales were banned in Washington D. Stadium, was nearly four miles from the Lincoln Memorial rally site. Rustin and Walter Fauntroy negotiated some security issues with the government, gaining approval for private marshals with the understanding that these would not be able to act against outside agitators.
The organizers originally planned to hold the march outside of the Capitol Building. Rustin pushed hard for an expensive sound system, maintaining "We cannot maintain order where people cannot hear. Its operators were unable to repair it. Fauntroy contacted Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his civil rights liaison Burke Marshall , demanding that the government fix the system. Fauntroy reportedly told them: Do you want a fight here tomorrow after all we've done?
The march commanded national attention by preempting regularly scheduled television programs. As the first ceremony of such magnitude ever initiated and dominated by African Americans, the march also was the first to have its nature wholly misperceived in advance.
Dominant expectations ran from paternal apprehension to dread. On Meet the Press , reporters grilled Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King about widespread foreboding that "it would be impossible to bring more than , militant Negroes into Washington without incidents and possibly rioting.
With nearly 1, extra correspondents supplementing the Washington press corps, the march drew a media assembly larger than the Kennedy inauguration two years earlier. The march included black political parties and William Worthy who was one of many who lead college students during the freedom struggle era. On August 28, more than 2, buses , 21 chartered trains , 10 chartered airliners, and uncounted cars converged on Washington.
Although Randolph and Rustin had originally planned to fill the streets of Washington, D. Demonstrators were met at the monument by speakers and musicians. Women leaders were asked to march down Independence Avenue, while the male leaders marched on Pennsylvania Avenue with the media.
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 leaders met the March at Constitution Avenue, where they linked arms at the head of a crowd in order to be photographed 'leading the march'.
Marchers were not supposed to create their own signs, though this rule was not completely enforced by marshals. Most of the demonstrators did carry pre-made signs, available in piles at the Washington Monument. About 50 members of the American Nazi Party staged a counter-protest and were quickly dispersed by police. Most non-participating workers stayed home. Jailers allowed inmates to watch the March on TV. Representatives from each of the sponsoring organizations addressed the crowd from the podium at the Lincoln Memorial.
None of the official speeches were by women; Josephine Baker gave a speech during the preliminary offerings, but women's presence in the official program was limited to a "tribute" led by Bayard Rustin , at which Daisy Bates spoke see "excluded speakers" below. 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.
The actual order of the speakers was as follows: Philip Randolph — March Director, 2. Daisy Bates — Little Rock, Arkansas, 6. Whitney Young — National Urban League, 9. Martin Luther King Jr. Then closing remarks by A. Marian Anderson was scheduled to lead the National Anthem but was unable to arrive on time; Camilla Williams performed in her place. Following an invocation by Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle , the opening remarks were given by march director A. Philip Randolph , followed by Eugene Carson Blake.
Lee , Rosa Parks , and Gloria Richardson. Rustin then read the march's official demands for the crowd's approval, and Randolph led the crowd in a pledge to continue working for the march's goals. The program was closed with a benediction by Morehouse College president Benjamin Mays.
Although one of the officially stated purposes of the march was to support the civil rights bill introduced by the Kennedy Administration, several of the speakers criticized the proposed law as insufficient. Two government agents stood by in a position to cut power to the microphone if necessary. Roy Wilkins announced that W. Du Bois had died in Ghana the previous night; the crowd observed a moment of silence in his memory. Du Bois chose another path, it is incontrovertible that at the dawn of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling you to gather here today in this cause.
If you want to read something that applies to go back and get a volume of The Souls of Black Folk by Du Bois, published in In good conscience, we cannot support wholeheartedly the administration's civil rights bill, for it is too little and too late.
The revolution is a serious one. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the streets and put it into the courts. The black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a "cooling-off" period. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground—nonviolently Lewis' speech was distributed to fellow organizers the evening before the march, garnering resistance from Reuther, O'Boye, and others who thought it was too divisive and militant.
That night, O'Boyle and other members of the Catholic delegation began preparing a statement announcing their withdrawal from the March. Reuther convinced them to wait and called Rustin; Rustin informed Lewis at 2 A. Rustin also reportedly contacted Tom Kahn , mistakenly believing that Kahn had edited the speech and inserted the line about Sherman's March to the Sea. Rustin asked, "How could you do this? Do you know what Sherman did? But Lewis did not want to change the speech. Under threat of public denouncement by the religious leaders, and under pressure from the rest of his coalition, Lewis agreed to omit the 'inflammatory' passages.
We support it with great reservation, however. The speech given by SCLC president King, who spoke last, became known as the " I Have a Dream " speech, which was carried live by TV stations and subsequently considered the most impressive moment of the march. At the end of the speech, Mahalia Jackson shouted from the crowd, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!
Philip Randolph spoke first, promising: Rustin followed King's speech by slowly reading the list of demands. Walter Reuther urged Americans to pressure their politicians to act to address racial injustices. American democracy is on trial in the eyes of the world… We cannot successfully preach democracy in the world unless we first practice democracy at home.
American democracy will lack the moral credentials and be both unequal to and unworthy of leading the forces of freedom against the forces of tyranny unless we take bold, affirmative, adequate steps to bridge the moral gap between American democracy's noble promises and its ugly practices in the field of civil rights.
According to Irving Bluestone , who was standing near the platform while Reuther delivered his remarks, he overheard two black women talking. One asked, "Who is that white man? That's the white Martin Luther King. Author James Baldwin was prevented from speaking at the March on the grounds that his comments would be too inflammatory.
In my view, by that time, there was, on the one hand, nothing to prevent—the March had already been co-opted—and, on the other, no way of stopping the people from descending on Washington.
What struck me most horribly was that virtually no one in power including some blacks or Negroes who were somewhere next door to power was able, even remotely, to accept the depth, the dimension, of the passion and the faith of the people.
Despite the protests of organizer Anna Arnold Hedgeman , no women gave a speech at the March. In light of the role of Negro women in the struggle for freedom and especially in light of the extra burden they have carried because of the castration of our Negro men in this culture, it is incredible that no woman should appear as a speaker at the historic March on Washington Meeting at the Lincoln Memorial.
The assembled group agreed that Myrlie Evers , the new widow of Medgar Evers, could speak during the "Tribute to Women". However, Evers was unavailable,   having missed her flight, and Daisy Bates spoke briefly less than words in place of her. Early plans for the March would have included an "Unemployed Worker" as one of the speakers.
This position was eliminated, furthering criticism of the March's middle-class bias. This was not Marian Anderson's first appearance at the Lincoln Memorial. In , the Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall.
Roosevelt , Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, , on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Dylan also performed " Only a Pawn in Their Game ", a provocative and not completely popular choice because it asserted that Byron De La Beckwith , as a poor white man, was not personally or primarily to blame for the murder of Medgar Evers.
Odetta sang " I'm On My Way ". Some participants, including Dick Gregory criticized the choice of mostly white performers and the lack of group participation in the singing. After the March on Washington, he performed at few other immediately politicized events. The event featured many prominent celebrities in addition to singers on the program.
There were also quite a few white celebrities there supporting the cause: After the March, the speakers travelled to the White House for a brief discussion of proposed civil rights legislation with President Kennedy. According to biographer Thomas C.
Reeves , Kennedy "felt that he would be booed at the March, and also didn't want to meet with organizers before the March because he didn't want a list of demands. He arranged a 5 P. Media attention gave the march national exposure, carrying the organizers' speeches and offering their own commentary.
More cameras would be set up than had filmed the last Presidential inauguration. One camera was positioned high in the Washington Monument, to give dramatic vistas of the marchers". Subsequent broadcasts focused heavily on the "I have a dream" portion of King's speech.
The Voice of America translated the speeches and rebroadcast them in 36 languages. The United States Information Agency organized a press conference for the benefit of foreign journalists, and also created a documentary film of the event for distribution to embassies abroad. Although the mass media generally declared the March successful because of its high turnout, organizers were not confident that it would create change. Randolph and Rustin abandoned their belief in the effectiveness of marching on Washington.
King maintained faith that action in Washington could work, but determined that future marchers would need to call greater attention to economic injustice. Black nationalist Malcolm X , in his Message to the Grass Roots speech, criticized the march, describing it as "a picnic" and "a circus".
He said the civil rights leaders had diluted the original purpose of the march, which had been to show the strength and anger of black people, by allowing white people and organizations to help plan and participate in the march. Segregationists including William Jennings Bryan Dorn criticized the government for cooperating with the civil rights activists. Johnston rejected an invitation to attend, writing: You should know that criminal, fanatical, and communistic elements, as well as crackpots, will move in to take every advantage of this mob.
Meet Harriet, the Irish singing donkey. Latest Entertainment Video 2: Tiffany Haddish reveals what she wants in a man. Tiffany Haddish on her Emmy win, dating and equal pay in Hollywood. Justin Bieber's burrito eating has the Internet buzzing. Hilary Swank on 'What They Had' and returning to acting after caring for her dad.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle face plane scare. Tiffany Haddish reveals her hilarious 'qualifications' for a date. Tiffany Haddish talks giving out a fake number to men. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet with local craftsmen in Tonga. Latest Entertainment Headlines Oct Sia teams up with students for dance video with anti-gun violence message children from grade school through high school worked together to create it. Tiffany Haddish on working with friend Whoopi Goldberg The two are starring together in the new movie, "Nobody's Fool.
Julia Roberts talks ageism and gender parity in Hollywood "We just do the best we can as individuals," she said. Megyn Kelly's morning show will not return to NBC airwaves The announcement comes days after she made comments on her show about blackface. If you want to date Tiffany Haddish, you must have these qualifications Haddish's new film "Nobody's Fool" hits theaters Nov. Singer Kelly Rowland fires back at trolls who questioned skin tone After she posted photos, commenters said she bleached her skin.
What we know so far The Internet is buzzing: Did Justin Bieber eat a burrito from the middle? Janelle Monae says response to coming out as pansexual has 'been beautiful' I hope "people will feel more comfortable walking in their truths," she said.
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