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60th Anniversary of the March on Washington with Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


What was the March on Washington? 

The March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs was meant to support the Civil Rights Act, which President John F. Kennedy was attempting to pass through Congress. The act called for an expanded Civil Rights Commission, the desegregation of public schools and other locations and voting rights protections for Black Americans.

On the day of the march, more than 250,000 people walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Cronkite remarked that the march sometimes looked "more like a parade of signs than of people," as marchers carried signs calling for equality and the end of police brutality.

Along the parade route was CBS News correspondent Dave Dugan. He called the enthusiasm of the march "contagious," with older attendees "taking it rather relaxed and calmly" and younger marchers singing freedom songs like "We Shall Overcome," bubbling with energy and "exuberance." 


The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, after Kennedy's assassination in Dallas in November of 1963. It outlawed discrimination based on race, sex and other protected classes, prohibited discrimination against voters of color and racial segregation in schools. It would be one of the most important legislative bills passed in American history. 

Who led the March on Washington? 

There were 10 main leaders of the march, according to a list of biographical information held by the JFK Presidential Library. The director of the march was Asa Philip Randolph, who was 74 at the time. He organized Black workers across America and was key in convincing President Harry Truman to integrate the U.S. military after World War II. 

Other major leaders included Eugene Carson Blake, a minister and former pastor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Walter Reuther, a union organizer and presidential adviser. Also involved in leading the march was James Farmer, who created the Congress of Racial Equity and organized the Freedom Rides of 1961. Farmer was in jail at the time of the march after being arrested at a protest in Louisiana. 


Also leading the march was John Lewis, who was arrested dozens of times in pursuit of equal rights and would go on to be a senator in Georgia, and King, who would make his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech as part of his duties that day. 

The other leaders included Whitney Young, Matthew Ahmann, Roy Wilkins and Rabbi Joachim Prinz. 

After the march, the leaders met with Kennedy, spending about 75 minutes with him and other officials. Kennedy released a statement praising the march and its leaders. 

After the meeting in the White House, the civil rights leaders addressed media outside the presidential residence. King told assembled reporters that the president had made it "very clear that" they would need "very strong bipartisan support" to pass civil rights legislation that year. 


Also leading the march was John Lewis, who was arrested dozens of times in pursuit of equal rights and would go on to be a senator in Georgia, and King, who would make his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech as part of his duties that day. 

The other leaders included Whitney Young, Matthew Ahmann, Roy Wilkins and Rabbi Joachim Prinz. 

After the march, the leaders met with Kennedy, spending about 75 minutes with him and other officials. Kennedy released a statement praising the march and its leaders. 

After the meeting in the White House, the civil rights leaders addressed media outside the presidential residence. King told assembled reporters that the president had made it "very clear that" they would need "very strong bipartisan support" to pass civil rights legislation that year. 





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