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The 1963 March on Washington occurred on this date. It attracted an estimated 250,000 people for a peaceful demonstration to promote Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans.
Participants walked down Constitution and Independence Avenues, 100 years after The Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The people gathered before the Lincoln Memorial for speeches, songs, and prayer. Planning for the event was complicated by differences among members.
Known in the press as "the big six," the major players were A. Phillip Randolph, vice-president of the AFL-CIO and president of Negro American Labor Council; Whitney Young Jr., president of the National Urban League (NUL); Roy Wilkins, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); James Farmer Jr., president of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); John Lewis, president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and Martin Luther King, Jr., founder, and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Bayard Rustin, a close associate of Randolph's and organizer of the first Freedom Ride in 1947, orchestrated and administered the details of the march. Televised live to an audience of millions, the march provided dramatic moments, most memorably the Reverend King's "I Have A Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.