August 28th 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the historic March On Washington (for Jobs and Freedom ) (August 28, 1963).
During this event Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous I Have a Dream Speech. The march was attended by over 250,000 people. At that time, it was the largest demonstration ever in the nation's capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage.
1963 was noted for racial unrest and civil rights demonstrations. Nationwide outrage was sparked by media coverage of police actions in Birmingham, Alabama, where attack dogs and fire hoses were turned against protestors. Martin Luther King, Jr., was arrested and jailed during these protests, writing his famous "Letter From Birmingham City Jail," which advocates civil disobedience against unjust laws. Dozens of additional demonstrations took place across the country. The March on Washington represented a coalition of several civil rights organizations. The stated demands of the march were the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation; the elimination of racial segregation in public schools; protection for demonstrators against police brutality; a major public-works program to provide jobs; the passage of a law prohibiting racial discrimination in public and private hiring; a $2 an hour minimum wage; and self-government for the District of Columbia, which had a black majority.
President Kennedy originally discouraged the march, for fear that it might make the legislature vote against civil rights laws in reaction to a perceived threat. Once it became clear that the march would go on, however, he supported it.
On June 22, 1963, just two months before the scheduled march, President John F. Kennedy met with civil rights leaders at the White House and expressed deep reservations about a mass rally in the nation’s capital. He told them he needed their help in getting his civil rights legislation passed, saying “we want success in the Congress, not a big show on the Capitol."
The event at the Lincoln Memorial included musical performances by Marian Anderson; Joan Baez; Bob Dylan; Mahalia Jackson; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Josh White. Charlton Heston—representing a contingent of artists, including Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Diahann Carroll, Ossie Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Paul Newman, and Sidney Poitier—read a speech by James Baldwin. The only female speaker was Josephine Baker.
Dr. King's speech remains one of the most famous speeches in American history. He started with prepared remarks, saying he was there to "cash a check" for "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," while warning fellow protesters not to "allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force." But then he departed from his script, shifting into the "I have a dream" theme he'd used on prior occasions, drawing on both "the American dream" and religious themes. speaking of an America where his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
I have a teenage son . As the mother of this son growing up in Mississippi...
growing up in America , I too have a dream .... that ONE DAY....