Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media intern
The 250,000 people who descended on the National Mall for the 1963 March on Washington came from around the country, using buses hastily booked by local organizers to get them there. It was a triumph for the event’s leaders, who had started planning only months before. But by the end of August 28, 1963, they had pulled of the largest peaceful demonstration in support of human rights to ever take place in the United States. It's an achievement that is being celebrated around the country this month, as the event's 50th anniversary approaches.
Conceived by A. Phillip Randolph, a veteran activist, as an event that would draw attention to the lack of available jobs for black Americans. But in the wake of the assassination of activist Medgar Evers and the introduction of the Civil Rights Act, it was clear that the march would be about more than jobs. In the end, it would be called The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
From the beginning, organizers faced the challenge of working against the clock. Randolph had asked Bayard Rustin to head up the team dealing with the event’s logistics, despite objections from some in the movement because Rustin was gay and had not served during World War II. But Randolph was insistent, and Rustin opened an office in New York staffed by volunteers and organizers, a team that at times numbered in the hundreds.
On the day itself, marchers began at the Washington Monument and then walked towards the Lincoln Memorial, where they listened to a program and culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
On August 24, HRC will be participating in the National Action Network’s event to remember the March on Washington — the theme of which is “National Action To Realize The Dream."
The Rev. MacArthur H. Flournoy, HRC's Director of Faith Partnerships & Mobilization, will be among those speaking at the event from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial. At 1:00 p.m., participants will march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which sits on the Tidal Basin.
HRC is proud to be a part of this historic event. Click here for more information.