March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, also known as The Great March on Washington, occurred on August 28, 1963. It was one of the largest rallies for human rights that the US has ever seen. At this rally, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech. Organized by civil rights and various other organizations, the march boasted 75-80% African American participants, with the other 20-25% being a combination of non-African American minorities as well as white supporters. A Philip Randolph, president of the Negro American Labor Council, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and vice-president of the AFL-CIO, largely coordinated the march. He had planned a similar rally years before, but President Roosevelt conceded to several of the demands before the rally had a chance to occur. In 1963, however, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been enacted, and after nearly none of the previous “promises” made to prevent previous rallies had been actualized. Originally to be held early on in the summer, the march spent most of the summer gaining supporters, and finally was set for late August.
On August 28, many trains, buses, planes, and cars came down on Washington, along with many participants on foot. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial. Each supporting organization sent a representative to speak at the march. Religious and labor leaders spoke, as well as two women representatives. Although many of the speeches supported passing civil rights laws through Congress, SNCC leader John Lewis called the supportive acts “too little, too late,” and threatened to march directly through the south to show support. His final version of the speech that he gave did not include such drastic language, but it was nonetheless very strong. Near the end of the day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the stand and delivered his “I have a Dream” speech. Here, we have some of the original audio recordings from that day, including King’s, Lewis’s, and more.