50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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A view from inside the Lincoln Memorial of the people gathered for the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
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50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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I HAVE A DREAM / 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Struggle for Equality By the age of 15, Martin Jr. had skipped two full grades in school and was accepted to Morehouse College, an all-male black institution in Atlanta. The summer before he started Morehouse, he traveled to Connecticut to earn some money to help with school. That was his first trip north, and he was astounded to be treated as an equal. “After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation,” he later wrote. “It was hard to understand why I could ride wherever I pleased on the train from New York to Washington, and then had to change to a Jim Crow car in the nation’s capital in order to continue to Atlanta.” BY ERIC SEEGER
FROM JIM CROW TO BIRMINGHAM 24 The Civil Rights Movement’s First Century For nearly a century, Southern states passed laws aimed at repressing the rights of freed men. The Jim Crow laws, while not explicitly defying the Reconstruction Amendments, certainly – particularly the statutory segregations that skirted the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause – defied them in spirit. Black and white Americans lived largely separate lives: They were born in different hospitals, lived in separate neighborhoods, rode in separate train cars, drank from separate water fountains, and attended separate schools.Voter registration requirements were rigged to exclude black Americans from voter rolls. These laws created a racial caste system that exposed black Americans to acts of unspeakable violence that – if not condoned outright – were punished with disgraceful lenience.
BY CRAIG COLLINS
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As a core value, the NCAA believes in and is committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators. With this commitment, an inclusive culture enables student-athletes to have the ultimate educational and athletic experience.
Contents THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON 50
PRESERVING HISTORY AND UPHOLDING A LEGACY 102
The Historic Demonstration and the Iconic Speech that Changed America
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. climbed onto the wooden platform in front of the Lincoln Memorial, he encountered Harry Belafonte and Stanley Levison. He clutched the typed script of the speech he would give in two hours. “I wonder if the President will really understand what this day is all about,” King said. “If he doesn’t understand this one,” Levison said, “he’ll understand the next one.”
In the heart of Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue neighborhood stands as simple and solemn a monument as you will ever find in an American city: A tiered reflection pool that cascades about 50 yards or so down five stepped ponds reaching a small island centered in the final basin – the final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. School groups, families, and foreign visitors filter through the courtyard to pay their respects.
BY CHARLES EUCHNER
“I HAVE A DREAM” 72 Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. DELIVERED AT THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM, AUGUST 28, 1963
VAULTS OF OPPORTUNITY 84 The Aftermath of the “I Have a Dream” Speech Black Americans weren’t just seeking the opportunity to sit where they liked on a bus or to be served alongside whites at lunch counters; they wanted the opportunity to carve out the lives of prosperity and the freedom of action the majority enjoyed. In this sense, King’s allusion to “vaults of opportunity” is just as important as his dream of racial harmony. BY ERIC TEGLER
LYNDON B. JOHNSON LIBRARY PHOTO BY YOICHI OKAMOTO
I HAVE A DREAM / 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
BY ERIC SEEGER
Georgia-Pacific is proud to support the 50th anniversay of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Speech
I HAVE A DREAM
50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Published by Faircount Media Group 701 North West Shore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33609 Tel: 813.639.1900 www.faircount.com
Permissions granted by Intellectual Properties Management, Inc. (Licensing Manager of the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL Editor in Chief: Chuck Oldham Managing Editor: Ana E. Lopez Editor: Rhonda Carpenter Editor: Iwalani Kahikina Editor/Photo Editor: Steven Hoarn Contributing Writers: Craig Collins, Charles Euchner, Eric Seeger, Eric Tegler DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Art Director: Robin K. McDowall Designers: Daniel Mrgan Lorena Noya, Kenia Y. Perez-Ayala Ad Traffic Manager: Rebecca Laborde ADVERTISING Account Executives: Mike Blomberg, Jason Bulluck, Steve Chidel, Art Dubuc Brent Green, Jim Huston, Seth Keener, Fred Lasday, Kevin McTernan Charles L. Poe II, Bonnie Schneider, Adrian Silva, Bob Swartout, Russ Tisch, Jeff Vikari OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION Chief Operating Officer: Lawrence Roberts VP, Business Development: Robin Jobson Financial Controller: Robert John Thorne Chief Information Officer: John Madden Business Analytics Manager: Colin Davidson Circulation: Alexis Vars Events Manager: Jim Huston FAIRCOUNT MEDIA GROUP Publisher, North America: Ross Jobson Publisher, Europe: Peter Antell COVER AND TITLE PAGE IMAGE: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to participants in the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963. Image by ÂŠ Bettmann/CORBIS
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Struggle for Equality BY ERIC SEEGER
It is an opinion expressed by some that â€“ with the exception of the Emancipation Proclamation and President Abraham Lincoln â€“ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., between 1956 and April 4, 1968, may have done more to achieve racial and social equality and political justice than any other person or event in the previous 400 years of U.S. history.
10 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
uch belief may seem hyperbolic, but the facts remain that, though he didn’t even live to see 40 years of age, King served as the voice and guiding spirit of a nationwide movement that uprooted the South’s most entrenched racist social and political constraints. King was the perfect man for the time, and his philosophy of nonviolent resistance became a force that disarmed the authorities of that time. Making the Man Indeed, his impact on the civil rights movement – and his inspiration to those around the world – is too great to measure, but the heights of his influence stand in direct relation to the glimpses of greatness he displayed in his early life. King grew up in what can be best described as an upper-middle-class black family living in segregated Atlanta, Ga. As he detailed it in his autobiography, his father earned a preacher’s income, but through dedicated thriftiness, his family always felt provided for. Martin Jr. was precocious – always advanced in his schoolwork – and from an early age, he saw himself becoming a preacher like his father and his maternal grandfather. His first understanding of segregation and racism came at a young age when his friend – a young white boy – was disallowed by his father to continue playing with Martin Jr.; the two boys were approaching school age, and the father presumably thought it inappropriate for his son to play across color lines. It was around this time that Martin Jr. started to realize the inequities imposed upon people of his skin color. In businesses all across Atlanta, Martin Jr. and his family were openly treated as second-class citizens. Slavery had rightfully perished more than 60 years before Martin Jr.’s 1929 birth, but in this part of the country, it had been replaced by white society’s institutionalized superiority complex: segregation. “Separate but equal” was never equal, and as years passed, acceptance of this structure eroded with every successive generation after the Civil War. Though earlier generations
had sown the seeds of equality, it was Martin Jr.’s generation that would ultimately push through the racism and hatred. The subject of segregation was obviously at the forefront of Martin Jr.’s thinking, and at the age of 14 he wrote and delivered a short speech for an oratorical competition in Dublin, Ga. – which he won – on the subject of “The Negro and the Constitution.” It began: We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines – obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flout the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule. … By the age of 15, Martin Jr. had skipped two full grades in school and was accepted to Morehouse College, an all-male black institution in Atlanta. The summer before he started Morehouse, he traveled to Connecticut to earn some money to help with school. That was his first trip north, and he was astounded to be treated as an equal. “After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation,” he later wrote. “It was hard to understand why I could ride wherever I pleased on the train from New York to Washington, and then had to change to a Jim Crow car in the nation’s capital in order to continue to Atlanta.” Morehouse offered an eye-opening experience. Since it was a private college, the professors were able to speak freely about race – a first in Martin Jr.’s education. It was also where he discovered the idea of civil disobedience in Henry David Thoreau’s writing. The idea was so simple: that, as he put it, “evil must be resisted and no moral man can adjust to injustice.” Thoreau was just the beginning. He graduated Morehouse at 19 years old and entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Throughout his collegiate and graduate careers, Martin Jr. became a voracious student of many different social paradigms such as capitalism, Marxism, pacificism, liberalism, and many more. He also studied important
PICTURE © FLIP SCHULKE/CORBIS CREDIT
“After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation,” he later wrote. “It was hard to understand why I could ride wherever I pleased on the train from New York to Washington, and then had to change to a Jim Crow car in the nation’s capital in order to continue to Atlanta.”
11 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Catalysts for Change. Beacons of Hope.
Fisk University 1000 17th Avenue North Nashville, Tennessee 37208 www.fisk.edu | 615-329-8500
â€œCultivating Scholars and Leaders One by Oneâ€?
An undated photo of the house in Atlanta, Ga., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929.
SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE Fundamental tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom. The six principles include: • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. • The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. • Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. • Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal. • Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. • The universe is on the side of justice. Source: thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy
thinkers like Nietzsche, Hobbes, Niebuhr, and Rousseau, among others. Each one he dissected to find their strengths and weaknesses, but none convinced him there was an answer to America’s societal problems. It was in 1950 that he attended a lecture about Mohandas Gandhi. Struck by Gandhi’s life’s work, Martin Jr. immediately immersed himself in books on this man. “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale,” King later wrote. “It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking.” The greatest difference between the two men’s struggles was that Gandhi’s people were a majority in a country that was ruled by a small imperial minority, whereas King’s people were oppressed by a large majority. Upon receiving his bachelor of divinity degree from Crozer in 1951, Martin Jr. enrolled at Boston University to pursue a doctorate in systematic theology. There, he continued to refine his philosophy on nonviolence. He received his doctorate in 1955.
13 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
It was also in Boston that he met Coretta Scott, an Alabamaborn and collegiately educated musician who also had experience in the equal rights movement. The two had an instant connection, and were married by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. at Scott’s family’s home in Alabama one-and-a-half years later. They would eventually have four children together.
When the city finally gave in, King and the other pastors reminded the black community to return to the buses without gloating and to steer clear of provocations. Despite some instances of indignant white passengers causing a scene, the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses went relatively smoothly – which surprised many people. King’s strategy of civil disobedience to undercut an evil system had proven successful. And adhering to nonviolence proved that when a provocation is not met with retaliation, all that’s left to judge is the provocation itself. “When you use nonviolence as did Dr. King, you’re leaving room to create lasting healing after the power struggle is over,” says Steven Klein, communications director of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. “You’re not acting like a conqueror. You’re acting like someone who respects your adversaries.You’re after reconciliation.” Communities across the South had carefully watched what happened in Montgomery; a new roadmap to desegregation had been drawn, and King had emerged on the national stage as a leader in the fight for racial equality.
The Movement Gains Momentum
The Message Spreads
After receiving his doctorate at Boston University in 1955, (now Dr.) King looked for his next career step. There were possibilities of professorial jobs at other institutions, but he decided to accept a pastoral position at Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery, Ala. – a former capital of the Confederacy. He and Coretta hesitated about moving back to the Jim Crow South, but they agreed that if they were ever going to have an impact against the institution of segregation, they would need to live close to it. It was not long into his tenure in Montgomery that Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. Members of the black community in Montgomery were tired of the treatment they’d received on the buses – from the drivers and the patrons – and called for a boycott. King was elected president of the newly established Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), a guiding force of the boycott, and from the start, he emphasized strict adherence to nonviolence – even in the face of harassment, threats, or violence. He wanted to demonstrate that this boycott was held against the segregated bus system, not the whites of Montgomery. In India, Gandhi had encouraged the nation’s poor to spin their own cotton as a sign of independence from colonial Britain. In Montgomery, walking to school or to work while buses drove by empty created a similar impression. King and the other boycott leaders became the focus of regular harassment – and soon attacks and bombings started to target those involved with the boycott. When King’s own home was bombed, he spoke to members of the black community who arrived at his house ready for retribution and convinced them not to give the bombers the battle they were seeking. Other MIA members’ houses were bombed, but the community stuck to its message of nonviolence.
In early 1957, a group of Southern preachers and community leaders – King among them – established the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC). The SCLC was envisioned as an organization that would help local civil rights groups throughout the South plan and coordinate their efforts, sharing what was learned in similar struggles in other communities. King was selected as the first president of the organization. His work with the SCLC ultimately took him across the South – and around the world – to speak for and march with people who had been trampled by their own communities for so long. One of the SCLC’s first major initiatives was a push to give Southern blacks the right to vote. “It was my firm conviction that if the Negro achieved the ballot throughout the South, many of the problems which we faced would be solved,” King stated in his autobiography. “Once we gained the ballot, we would see a new day in the South.” By 1960, King moved his family back to Atlanta and took on the role of co-pastor alongside his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. This allowed him more time to work with the SCLC, directing efforts across the South. One movement that did not require much coordination was the student sit-in protests. They started in 1960 in Greensboro, N.C., where students demanded equal services in businesses. At some universities, the expulsions of protestors were met with massive student walkouts. And retaliation through arrests and attacks started to lose their effectiveness. “State governments found themselves dealing with students who had lost the fear of jail or physical injury,” King noted. As for King himself, the remainder of his life was marked with constant legal harassment – frivolous cases that were barefaced attempts to slow him down. In 1960, he was accused by the state of Alabama of falsifying old tax returns. The case against King
14 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
PHOTO BY HERMAN HILLER, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, pictured in 1964. The couple married in 1953 and had four children.
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Alabama Civil Rights Trail app to get the complete picture of the Civil Rights Movement. Lear n about all of the people, cities and events that changed American history forever. Easy navigation makes this app the perfect tool for any generation to learn about one of the most important times in American history.
Alabama – Where the dream began. This year marks the 50th anniversary of events that forever changed American history. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made it clear that Alabama and its citizens would be strong partners in his dream of racial equality for all. As he fought peacefully across the state, he transformed Alabama into the home of some of America’s most historic landmarks. Gather your family and experience these Alabama Civil Rights Trail sites for yourself.
Download The Alabama Civil Rights Trail app. It’s free. Or visit www.Alabama.Travel to learn more about these historical events and how you can experience their legacy today.
B A P T I ST
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Plan your trip and celebrate the Civil Rights Movement in heritage-rich Alabama.
Visit Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where Dr. King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, launching the modern Civil Rights Movement. It’s the only church Dr. King served as senior pastor. Head to the city where he wrote “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and tour the inspiring Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma where state troopers fought to prevent a voting rights march in 1965.
AP PHOTO/HORACE CORT
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing, holds a meeting with the Executive Board of the Montgomery Improvement Association during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956.
was so flimsy that even an all-white jury in Montgomery found him innocent. Later that year, King was arrested alongside 280 students during an Atlanta department store lunch counter sit-in. He and many of the students refused to post bail, choosing instead to stay in jail en masse for days to highlight the unequal lunch counter situation across the community. Eventually the store dropped the charges and all the arrested students were set free. But upon his release, King was served papers and taken back into court for violation of probation from a previous driving ticket. Earlier that year, he
had been cited for driving with an Alabama license after he had moved to Georgia. Through the twisted logic of the Southern court system of that period, King was sent to a state prison. He was eventually released when then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert started working behind the scenes on his behalf. In Albany, Ga., King was arrested for participating in nonviolent protests, and again he chose to stay in jail rather than pay a bail. In fact, he was arrested three times that year in Albany. More than 700 citizens of the town went to jail during those protests. One time, King was bailed out against his will by a mysterious, unnamed donor, and other times, the warden actually asked King to leave his jail. It seemed as though the authoritiesâ€™ knee-jerk reaction during protests was to arrest King, hoping that jailing him would bring a halt to whatever demonstration was taking place. However, jailing King, it eventually dawned on them, only served to draw more attention to his cause.
17 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
AP PHOTO PHOTO BY MARION S. TRIKOSKO, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Above: The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., right, are taken by a policeman as they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham, Ala., on April 12, 1963. King penned “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after this arrest. Right: The wreckage caused by a bomb explosion near the Gaston Motel where King and leaders in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were staying during the Birmingham campaign.
But everything escalated out of hand during the desegregation campaign in Birmingham, Ala., in the spring of 1963 that employed boycotts, sit-ins, and marches. On April 12, King and other protest marchers were jailed during a 1963 Good Friday march. Local religious leaders openly criticized King in the newspaper for inciting the march and bringing unrest into their town. King responded to their argument with a lengthy and scathing rebuttal known today as “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Protests in Birmingham continued, and the local government’s response intensified. Days after King was released on April 19, a mass demonstration led to more than 1,000 arrests. But the campaign persisted. As Birmingham’s mayor brought out his police force, dogs, and fire hoses – appalling the nation with such a severe response – the protestors displayed what King called “the pride and power of nonviolence.” And nonviolence prevailed. Negotiations began less than a week later, and soon thereafter, an agreement was made to
desegregate Birmingham’s lunch counters and public restrooms and drinking fountains and to facilitate improved employment opportunities for blacks. After the agreement was reached, two bombs went off in Birmingham: one near King’s hotel room (luckily, he had already returned to Atlanta) and the other at the home of his brother, the Rev. A.D. King. A riot led by average citizens who did not observe nonviolence ensued, and the police responded
19 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks during the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
20 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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with brutal force. The nation was shocked. In response, President Kennedy ordered 3,000 federal soldiers to assemble near Birmingham and took control of the Alabama National Guard. It looked like an American city would be placed under military occupation for the first time since the Civil War. With that move, tensions in Birmingham quickly cooled – for the time being. Making the March The nation had seen how far segregationists would go to maintain social norms that should have died 100 years prior with the Emancipation Proclamation. In the North, racism was also being called into question. Birmingham forced the United States to look within itself, and it called black communities to stand up for themselves even in the face of less formal segregation. In June 1963, President Kennedy proposed civil rights legislation. Earlier that year, his administration had tabled a similar proposal, but after Birmingham it could no longer be delayed. One of the standing criticisms of the Kennedys was that their help often came only when it was politically necessary. Behind the scenes at the same time, the FBI began wiretapping and surveilling King and his associates. J. Edgar Hoover was keenly interested in everything that happened within the movement between July 1963 and December 1967. But on the surface, freedom was on the move in 1963, and A. Philip Randolph – a veteran civil rights and workers’ rights leader – began organizing a march on Washington for Aug. 28. The goal was to capitalize on Kennedy’s new legislation. This march was unique in that it would be the first nationalscale civil rights demonstration, and it would represent many different faiths and organizations. Just as important, King hoped to see strong white representation within the crowd, at least 20 percent. He knew this event would be televised, and he wanted the nation to understand that whites were involved in the struggle for freedom, too – in truth, King’s activism had crossed color lines even as far back as his early college days at Morehouse. Originally the march had been planned to end in front of Congress, but Kennedy discouraged that plan, concerned that delivering speeches at Congress’ doorstep would leave the legislators feeling as though they had been backed into a corner. The march would pass through Washington, but it would end at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial instead. The days leading up to the march apparently saw some bickering among the speakers regarding who would be the final person to address the crowd. Many felt that it should be King. Others did not. The matter was easily resolved when speakers realized that they did not want to follow him at the podium. King had worked out most of his speech in New York. According to Coretta Scott King, her husband had originally been told that everyone had been given eight minutes to deliver their speeches. Later, he was told to take as much time as he needed, since many in the crowd had come to hear him. “I awoke that morning and realized he had stayed up all night working on his speech, she recalled in 2003. “When he finished, everyone seemed satisfied that he had written a good speech. As it turned out, however, he would deliver a better one.” Buses arrived from across the country for the march. An estimated 250,000 people showed up to participate in what
The nation had seen how far segregationists would go to maintain social norms that should have died 100 years prior with the Emancipation Proclamation. In the North, racism was also being called into question. Birmingham forced the United States to look within itself, and it called black communities to stand up for themselves even in the face of less formal segregation.
would become the largest nonviolent demonstration in American history – with an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the crowd being white. When the leaders got delayed in Congress, the march simply started without them. After several hours of speeches and songs, it was King’s turn to address the crowd. He stuck to his prepared speech at first, discussing social inequities, the need to continue using nonviolent tactics, the need to give blacks the vote. Then, he set aside his prepared text and launched into what will forever be one of the most impassioned and eloquent speeches in American history with four words: “I have a dream.” King’s speech made an instant connection with those who heard it. His words were broadcast across the nation and around the world. He had voiced what an entire segment of the national populace had been feeling for centuries, and he forced the nation – through the power of television – to realize America could not claim to be the land of the free as long as it oppressed its own citizens. He painted the civil rights struggle as an effort that included whites as well as blacks, that the two races would inevitably integrate. Sadly, the civil rights bill was still many months away from being signed into law. And only a couple of weeks after the March on Washington, a bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham killed four young black girls who were attending Sunday school on Sept. 15. President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22 of that same year. And King would be assassinated only a few years later in 1968 at a time when he was calling for an end to war in Vietnam and working toward equality and economic security for all Americans through the Poor People’s Campaign. Everything in the country was changing at an incredible rate, but the March on Washington and the speech set something in place. Until then, the entire civil rights movement had been, in many ways, an experiment – the work of isolated local groups standing up to local authorities. But something solidified that day when King’s message was broadcast into living rooms across the country. Even though the violence and laughable court trials would continue, the political momentum had swung inexorably in the favor of justice.
23 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
From Jim Crow to Birmingham The Civil Rights Movement’s First Century BY CRAIG COLLINS
In the wake of America’s Civil War, the lives of AfricanAmericans were transformed so quickly that – even given the breakneck pace of social change today – it remains difficult to grasp: Almost overnight, the 400-year-old practice of slavery, an institution that had shaped the very foundation of U.S. government, ceased to exist. In quick succession, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution abolished slavery in the United States and granted citizenship to freed slaves; guaranteed “equal protection” under federal and state laws; and extended suffrage to African-American men.
t seemed an astonishing reversal of fortune. Less than a decade earlier, in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott ruling, slaveholding Chief Justice Roger Taney had asserted that the nation’s founders viewed black people as “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect ... the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.” Such language, from the nation’s highestranking judicial official, signaled the nation had far to go before realizing its founding principle that “all men are created equal.” In the Reconstruction Era, from 18631877, while radical Republican lawmakers attempted to remake the American South, a group of former Confederate soldiers formed the Ku Klux Klan, a white terrorist group that carried out thousands of brutal lynchings, rapes, castrations, and murders. The battle lines were drawn – and for decades, despite the initial promise of Reconstruction, AfricanAmericans and their allies were clearly on the losing side.
24 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
For nearly a century, Southern states passed laws aimed at repressing the rights of freed men. The Jim Crow laws, while not explicitly defying the Reconstruction Amendments, certainly – particularly the statutory segregations that skirted the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause – defied them in spirit. Black and white Americans lived largely separate lives: They were born in different hospitals, lived in separate neighborhoods, rode in separate train cars, drank from separate water fountains, and attended separate schools.Voter registration requirements were rigged to exclude black Americans from voter rolls. These laws created a racial caste system that exposed black Americans to acts of unspeakable violence that – if not condoned outright – were punished with disgraceful lenience. One after another, federal court cases sanctioned this caste system, culminating in the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities. The “separate but equal” doctrine asserted by this ruling paved the way for
An Oklahoma City family pauses for a glance at the Santa Fe Depot segregation sign, Nov. 25, 1955, in Oklahoma City, Okla., after hearing news that the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) had ordered an end to separate seating on public carriers.
25 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO
From left to right, George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James M. Nabrit congratulate each other following the Brown v. Board of Education decision, May 17, 1954.
A TIME LINE OF CIVIL RIGHTS MILESTONES The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishes slavery in the United States.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, granting all U.S.born persons citizenship, is passed by Congress over President Andrew Johnson’s veto.
The 14th Amendment provides “equal protection of the laws” to all people in U.S. states.
The 15th Amendment guarantees the right of male U.S. citizens, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, to vote in elections.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 guarantees African-Americans equal treatment in public accommodations and public conveyances, and prohibits exclusion from jury service.
26 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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another 58 years of legalized discrimination against AfricanAmericans. In the early 20th century, several disparate movements arose to overcome this discrimination: Booker T. Washington, the ex-slave and educator who founded the Tuskegee Institute, for example, urged black Americans to achieve economic self-reliance before seeking political equality. Marcus Garvey, the ardent black nationalist, proposed the abandonment of white society and a return to the African homeland. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, founded by A. Philip Randolph in 1925, introduced one of the first nationally recognized African-American labor organizations. Two groups formed in this period would prove seminal to the modern civil rights movement: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded in 1909, began its work by mounting challenges to Jim Crow laws in federal courts. The Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interracial pacifist organization formed in 1915, would later give rise to the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), whose members fought Jim Crow injustice with nonviolent civil disobedience that would forever affirm the moral authority of modern activists – men and women who won freedom by proving, again and again, superior to their oppressors: stronger, wiser, braver, and more civilized and respectful of their fellow human beings. Turning the Tide: Brown v. Board of Education and the Little Rock Nine
arly legal challenges to Jim Crow laws achieved some noteworthy successes: the U.S. Supreme Court struck down “grandfather clauses” that exempted white voters from discriminatory measures; outlawed the official segregation of residential districts; and banned segregation on interstate buses and trains. In hindsight, these court cases signaled the beginning of a gradual reversal – but at the time they were modest moral victories, merely chipping away at the façade of racial oppression. The lives of African-Americans, throughout the South, remained separate lives; the freedom promised decades earlier was, in the words of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, “a dream deferred.” One of the bitterest pills for African-Americans to swallow was the continued segregation of their children into inferior public schools. Discrimination in education became a prime target of civil
rights attorneys – and particularly of the NAACP’s chief counsel, the shrewd and tireless Thurgood Marshall. Today, many consider Marshall’s victory in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case to have been the launching point for the modern civil rights movement. The case, consisting of five lawsuits filed by black parents from across the country, so meticulously exposed the inequities between white and black schools that the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The significance of the Brown v. Board decision can be measured by the immediate and vitriolic response to the demise of the “separate but equal” doctrine. Southern lawmakers denounced Brown and pledged to reverse it. Hundreds of measures aimed at maintaining segregation were enacted at state and local levels. Prince Edward County,Va., simply closed its public schools for five years, allowing white students to be sent to private schools while black students received no formal education. Southern racists lashed out with extreme violence; in 1955, their brutal murders of 14-year-old Emmett Till and NAACP leader George W. Lee galvanized civil rights activists: In the schools, they no longer needed to wait for the courts to grant them justice. They simply needed to claim what had been acknowledged as theirs. At first it seemed they would receive little assistance from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose response to segregationist defiance of Brown was, at first, lukewarm. But when Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus confronted the federal government with the most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War, the President acted decisively. In 1957, the school board in the state capital of Little Rock agreed to integrate Central High School. A group of nine African-American students, chosen for their excellent academic records, showed up for the first day of school on Sept. 4, steeled for a racist gauntlet. They had expected the angry mob that shouted threats and insults, and spat on at least one of them – but were surprised to discover that the 250 National Guard troops surrounding the school had been ordered by Faubus not to protect them, but to bar them from entry. The President resolved to crush such brazen defiance of federal law. After a near-riot during the students’ second attempt to go to school, Eisenhower took command of the 10,000 soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard and sent in 1,000 paratroopers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. On Sept. 25, the Little Rock Nine were conveyed to Central High School in military jeeps armed with machine guns, while paratroopers stood guard and helicopters hovered overhead.
Tennessee enacts the first permanent Jim Crow law, requiring railroad companies to furnish separate cars for AfricanAmerican passengers who pay firstclass rates.
In the “Civil Rights Cases,” the U.S. Supreme Court rules the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional, arguing that the 14th Amendment does not give the federal government the power to outlaw private discrimination.
Mississippi’s legislature passes a new constitution that effectively disenfranchises blacks through voter registration requirements such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency tests.
In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities, under the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Williams v. Mississippi, upholds the constitutionality of Mississippi’s discriminatory voter registration and election laws.
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an interracial group devoted to civil rights, is organized and begins to organize legal challenges to Jim Crow laws.
29 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Georgetown University is proud to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream award honors those whose work is inspired by Dr. King’s vision and is presented at the annual “Let Freedom Ring Celebration,” a free concert for the District of Columbia in partnership with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts each January.
STUDENTS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Also see Civil Rights at 50, a three-year changing exhibit highlighting news coverage of civil rights milestones.
Washington, D.C. newseum.org
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division escort the Little Rock Nine students into the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.
The use of federal troops was a signal that segregation in the South – though it would endure for several more years – was on borrowed time. But credit for the successful integration of Central High – and ultimately all of Arkansas’ public schools – belongs to that courageous group of students who continued to endure daily harassment and physical abuse, especially after their federal guards departed in November. All of the Little Rock Nine went on to attend college. More than 40 years later, recalling the iconic photo of one of the Nine – 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, tall and dignified in her
In Guinn v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the “grandfather clauses” used to exempt white voters from literacy tests.
In Buchanan v. Warley, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that state and local governments cannot officially segregate AfricanAmericans into separate residential districts.
In Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states that provide a school to white students must provide an equivalent in-state education to blacks.
new dress and sunglasses, trailed by a jeering mob – the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette described it as an image of “hate assailing grace.” It was a historic victory, but civil rights leaders understood that it meant only, for the time being, that nine teenagers had been able to attend the school of their choice. These movement leaders – including the young Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose recent civil rights victories in Montgomery, Ala., had emboldened activists throughout the South – knew much work remained to be done. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
early 60 years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus, the fog of myth has lifted: Parks was no
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is established.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, banning employment discrimination in the government and the defense industry.
The Committee on Racial Equality – later the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) – is founded to apply Mohandas K. Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence as a tactic against segregation.
In Morgan v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court, invoking the federal government’s jurisdiction over interstate commerce, invalidates Virginia’s segregation of white and black passengers on interstate buses.
31 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTOS
Above: Rosa Parks. Left: A diagram of the bus showing where Rosa Parks was seated when police were called and subsequently arrested her.
• April 9: CORE sends 16 men – eight black, eight white – on the “Journey of Reconciliation” through four Southern states to challenge segregated bus seating. • April 15: Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era, plays his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
President Harry S. Truman issues Executive Orders 9980 and 9981, barring discrimination in federal employment and the armed forces.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that segregation of public schools is illegal.
• May 7: NAACP activist George W. Lee is murdered in Belzoni, Miss. • Aug. 28: 14-yearold Emmett Till is lynched for whistling at a white woman in Money, Miss. • Dec. 1: Rosa Parks’ arrest inspires the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott.
• March 12: The Southern Manifesto, opposing school integration, is released, signed by 19 Southern senators and 82 members of the House of Representatives. • December: In Browder v. Gale, the Supreme Court declares the segregation of public buses to be illegal.
33 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by a police officer in Montgomery, Ala.
simple seamstress, merely too physically tired to yield, but rather a veteran civil rights worker and NAACP secretary who had been trained in civil disobedience. “The only tired I was,” she later wrote in her autobiography, My Story, “was tired of giving in.” On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks obeyed the rules: She paid her fare, exited out the front door, and then re-entered the bus’s rear door to take a front-row seat in the “colored” section. As the bus filled up, the driver directed her and three others to yield their seats to white passengers. When she quietly refused, the driver summoned two police officers, who arrested and jailed her for violating the city’s segregation law. After hearing of Parks’ arrest, local leaders gathered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where King was pastor, to organize a
boycott of city buses. Montgomery’s 30,000 black riders comprised nearly three-quarters of the total ridership, and the loss of their fares would prove costly. On Dec. 5, the day Parks received a $10 fine in court, 99 percent of the city’s black riders ignored the buses and walked, hitchhiked, or pedaled bicycles. When the boycott did not immediately bring the city government to its knees, some local leaders, as well as the national NAACP, began to waver. However, the then-26-year-old King, president of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), inspired protestors with passion, eloquence, and moral courage. He exhorted crowds to act – and to remain nonviolent, no matter how angry they became. “No white person,” he said, “will be taken from his home by a hooded Negro mob and brutally murdered.” The bus boycott was a grinding ordeal: The bus company lost more than half its revenues. Downtown merchants suffered from the loss of business. Many participants, including Parks, were fired from their jobs, and King and other organizers were arrested. Racists bombed the homes of King, Alabama NAACP leader Edgar Nixon, and local minister Ralph D. Abernathy. When angry supporters gathered at King’s house and vowed revenge, he appeared on his front porch and calmly exhorted them to meet violence peaceably. In his steady leadership of the boycott, King became the embodiment of the civil rights movement. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Alabama’s racial segregation laws were unconstitutional, the boycott officially ended after 381 days. On Dec. 21, 1956, King, Nixon, Abernathy, and Parks’ lawyer, Fred Gray, boarded the city’s first integrated bus – and sat in front. Just days after the boycott victory, King and other ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to coordinate and support nonviolent direct action throughout the South. One of the organization’s first efforts was to press for legislation that would protect voting rights – in 1957, only about 20 percent of African-Americans had registered to vote. Southern lawmakers fought so hard against this bill that its final, watered-down version – passed in September, just before the crisis in Little Rock – produced essentially unenforceable prohibitions against intimidating or interfering with attempts to vote. The law did, however, create both the Commission on Civil Rights and the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, agencies that, while temporary and essentially toothless, laid the groundwork for a stronger federal role in enforcing civil rights.
• Feb. 14: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is established, with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its first president. • Sept. 9: The Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first post-Reconstruction civil rights law in the United States, is enacted to protect voting rights. • Sept. 24: President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders federal troops to protect nine new African-American students and enforce integration at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.
• At a rally for the Youth March for Integrated Schools at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., King addresses 26,600 marchers, telling them: “You have awakened on hundreds of campuses throughout the land a new spirit of social inquiry to the benefit of all Americans.”
35 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
After the successful end of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy (at left, front seat) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (at left, second seat), who were active in the long boycott of the city’s segregated bus system, were among the first to ride the newly integrated buses on Dec. 21, 1956.
• Feb. 1: Four black students stage a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter at the Woolworth’s department store in Greensboro, N.C., launching a six-month campaign that leads to the desegregation of stores throughout the South. • April 15: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed in Raleigh, N.C. • Nov. 14: In New Orleans, La., Ruby Bridges becomes the first AfricanAmerican child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
• March 6: President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, which establishes the committee that will become the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). • May 4-24: Departing from Washington, D.C., Freedom Riders from CORE and SNCC protest illegal segregation on interstate buses. Riders are brutally assaulted in South Carolina and three Alabama cities, and are arrested on their arrival in Jackson, Miss., where some spend 40 to 60 days in the state penitentiary. • Sept. 22: The Interstate Commerce Commission, at Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s insistence, orders the desegregation of interstate travel. • December: King, after arriving to lend assistance to the Albany Movement in southern Georgia, is arrested at a demonstration and charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.
37 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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A black student, right, watches as a store employee puts up a lunch counter “Closed” sign shortly after a group, who identified themselves as Texas Southern University students, filled the counter stools and asked for service, March 4, 1960, in Houston, Texas. After the group was refused service, they staged a sit-down strike and said they would stay until the store closed – and would then be back the next day.
The Students Rise Up: Sit-ins and Freedom Rides
AP PHOTO/ED KOLENOVSKY
n the afternoon of Feb. 1, 1960, four black freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College – young men who had been active in NAACP youth programs and had heard King speak – decided to challenge segregation at Woolworth’s department store lunch counter in Greensboro. After buying toothpaste and school supplies, they sat at the counter but were told by the waitress: “We don’t serve colored here.” The manager tried unsuccessfully to have them arrested – the courteous young men had broken no law – and they left after the store closed. The simple protest of the Greensboro Four, as they became known, promptly launched a nationwide movement. By the end of the week, more than 300 local students took turns occupying seats at the lunch counter all day long; by the end of the month, sit-ins were held in more than 30 cities – most notably in Nashville,
• Oct. 1: James Meredith becomes the first black student at the University of Mississippi, prompting a riot in which two people are killed. • Nov. 20: President Kennedy issues Executive Order 11063, banning segregation in federally funded housing.
• April 3-May 12: The Birmingham campaign, organized by the SCLC and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, challenges city leaders and business owners to desegregate public facilities. • April 16: King, after being arrested during the Birmingham campaign, composes his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” • May 10: The “Children’s Crusade,” a march of schoolchildren on downtown Birmingham, leads to a negotiated end to the Birmingham campaign, with the city and local businesses agreeing to end segregation laws and practices. • May 11-12: After a double bombing and widespread violence in protest of the settlement, President Kennedy sends federal troops into Birmingham. • June 11: In his historic civil rights speech, President Kennedy promises to send a civil rights bill to Congress and asks all Americans for “the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves.” • June 12: Civil rights activist Medgar W. Evers is murdered in Mississippi.
• Aug. 28: In Washington, D.C., the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the largest political rallies for human rights in U.S. history, begins at the Washington Monument and ends at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech. • Sept. 15: The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., is bombed, killing four young girls. • Nov. 22: President Kennedy is assassinated.
39 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
Tenn., where black customers spent $50 million annually in white businesses. As the movement continued to grow, protestors targeted other public places. All these protests were nonviolent; students were instructed not to retaliate if struck, and when protestors were arrested, others stepped in to take their seats. The students’ use of the “Jail, No Bail,” tactic soon filled municipal jails beyond capacity. About six months after the first sit-in, storeowners, bleeding cash, had no choice but to integrate. On July 25, 1960, the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter served AfricanAmericans for the first time, and the next day, every Woolworth’s lunch counter in the United States was open to black customers.
A bus that was carrying Freedom Riders burns near Anniston, Ala., in 1961.
By the end of the year, stores in dozens of other cities had followed suit. The phenomenal and rapid success of the sit-ins inspired the formation of a new civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). While this new organization shared the SCLC’s goals and remained dedicated to nonviolence, it adopted a more militant posture. Its tactics would
• Jan. 23: The United States ratifies the 24th Amendment, outlawing poll taxes in federal elections. • June: Activists launch the Mississippi “Freedom Summer,” a drive to register black voters. • June 21: Three civil rights workers disappear in Mississippi, and are later found murdered. • July 2: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is enacted, banning discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” in employment and public accommodations – finally extinguishing the “separate but equal” legal doctrine. • July 24-26: Racial tensions in Rochester, N.Y., lead to riots, sparked by the arrest of a 19-year-old black male. The riots result in four deaths and hundreds of arrests and end when National Guard troops are called – the first time they are called for such use in a Northern city. • Dec. 10: King accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and, at age 35, is the youngest person ever to earn the award.
• Feb. 18: Jimmie Lee Jackson, an unarmed 26-year-old protestor, is shot – and dies days later – by an Alabama state trooper in Marion, Ala., inspiring the Selma to Montgomery marches and protests. • Feb. 21: Malcolm X, founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is shot to death by Nation of Islam members in New York City. • March 7: On “Bloody Sunday,” police attack 600 marchers in Selma, Ala., with clubs, police dogs, and tear gas.
41 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
To merely cross paths with greatness is always an honor. Chock full o’Nuts is proud to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s speech and his affiliation with National Baseball Hall of Fame member Jackie Robinson. After retiring from baseball, Mr. Robinson went on to become Vice President of Chock full o’Nuts Coffee in New York. During that historic era, he also formed a bond with Martin Luther King, Jr. They shared correspondence, received honorary law degrees from Howard University, and forged a friendship that illustrates how a collective spirit can move a nation.
The heavenly coffee
In Birmingham, Ala., riders on the remaining bus were beaten again – with police nowhere in sight – by a bloodthirsty mob actively encouraged by Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor, a Klan supporter and one of the South’s most notorious racists.
lead its members into some of the most dangerous areas of the South, where they would confront some the most violent attacks of the modern civil rights movement. On May 4, 1961, SNCC students joined with CORE to claim what the U.S. Supreme Court had decided was theirs – integrated seats on interstate buses and in transit terminals. The first “Freedom Ride,” carrying seven black and six white volunteers, set out from Washington, D.C., in two buses bound for New Orleans, La. White volunteers sat in the back of the buses; black volunteers in the front. In terminals they sat together, ignoring the WHITES ONLY signs. The Freedom Riders never reached New Orleans. They encountered growing resistance that reached a murderous peak in Anniston, Ala., where one bus was firebombed and passengers on both were beaten with clubs and chains. In Birmingham, Ala., riders on the remaining bus were beaten again – with police nowhere in sight – by a bloodthirsty mob actively encouraged by Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor, a Klan supporter and one of the South’s most notorious racists. With mobs already gathering along the route to Montgomery, bus operators Greyhound and Trailways recalled their drivers. President John F. Kennedy, horrified by the sickening violence, sent along a Justice Department observer, John Seigenthaler. Protesters attempted to resume the Freedom Ride on May 19, and under pressure from the White House, Greyhound provided a driver, who drove to Montgomery at 90 miles per hour, escorted by the Alabama State Highway Patrol. At the Montgomery city limit, state police left the riders under the protection of Connor’s police force – who stood by as the assembled mob launched its assault with baseball bats and iron pipes. Seigenthaler was beaten unconscious, and local onlookers
took him and several riders to hospitals after ambulance drivers refused to pick them up. The next day, when a rally at Abernathy’s church was attacked by a mob of 3,000, King appealed to Kennedy, who sent 400 U.S. Marshals to disperse the mob with tear gas. Under the protection of the Alabama National Guard, the Freedom Riders continued their travels without incident – but were promptly arrested when they arrived in Jackson, Miss., and tried to use whites-only facilities. Here the riders – and hundreds of subsequent Freedom Riders – employed the “Jail, No Bail” tactic, cramming Jackson’s jails with hundreds of people, many of whom were later moved to the infamous Mississippi State Penitentiary, where they were abused throughout their incarceration. Finally, the Kennedy administration pushed through federal regulations requiring interstate carriers and terminals to display signs announcing desegregated facilities. In about 300 Southern terminals – 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered it so – the WHITES ONLY signs at last came down. Victory in Birmingham
or the civil rights movement, such sweeping victories were rare – and even those smaller in scope, it seemed, were increasingly costly. On Oct. 1, 1962, when James H. Meredith became the first black student at the University of Mississippi, the campus exploded in riots that left two people dead before being quelled by 31,000 Army troops, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol officers, and Mississippi National Guardsmen. The Ole Miss riots, described by historians as the most serious federal-state confrontation since the Civil War, served notice to Southern segregationists that the Kennedy administration would no longer be reticent about enforcing federal laws in the South. Another costly campaign, one that achieved only modest results, was the Albany Movement in southern Georgia, where the SCLC threw its support behind a broad-front nonviolent protest. The campaign consisted of marches, boycotts, and occupations of whites-only bus stations, lunch counters, and libraries – all of which continued for nearly a year without achieving integration. King, who was jailed for his involvement in Albany, saw that the civil rights movement was at a crossroads. Though
• March 9: “Turnaround Tuesday.” Ministers of all faiths arrive in Selma to lead a second march of 1,500 participants. King, fearing further violence, discontinues the march. Later that night, SCLC member James Reeb is severely beaten by segregationists; he dies two days later. • March 16-25: After President Lyndon B. Johnson orders Army soldiers and Alabama National Guard troops to protect marchers, a group arrives in Montgomery on March 25, where King delivers one of his most historic speeches before 25,000 people: “Our aim,” he says, “must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.” Later that evening, civil rights activist Violet Liuzzo is murdered by Klan members while returning to Selma. • Aug. 6: Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating poll taxes, literacy tests, and other discriminatory practices, and providing federal oversight of voter registration. • Aug. 11-15: Riots break out in the African-American neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles, Calif. 34 people are killed and 1,032 are injured.
The Black Panthers, a revolutionary socialist group, are founded in Oakland, Calif., by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
43 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
The Colgate-Palmolive Company celebrates the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous call for equality and justice.
AP PHOTO/BILL HUDSON
A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Ala., is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President John F. Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day’s New York Times.
many organizations born from the movement, including the NAACP, CORE, SCLC, and SNCC, agreed that nonviolent direct action was a moral and powerful instrument for achieving desegregation, fractures were beginning to form in the movement’s united front, as leaders debated the finer points of strategy and tactics. The stakes could not have been higher. A weakened movement, King knew, would allow the nation to slide back to its old
ways; with Southern governments led at the highest levels by unapologetic segregationists, the hard-fought victories of thousands of protestors, won over the last decade, could disappear almost overnight. In early 1963, King and the SCLC, with local activists led by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, meticulously developed a plan to revitalize the movement: Project C (for Confrontation) would occur in the nation’s most segregated city: Birmingham, where
• June 12: The U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, invalidates any laws prohibiting interracial marriage. • June 13: Thurgood Marshall, former NAACP chief counsel, becomes the first African-American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. • July 23-27: The Detroit race riots erupt after a police raid on an African-American club. 43 people are killed and 1,189 injured; more than 2,500 stores are looted or burned.
• Feb. 1: Two sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., are killed on the job. In the days that follow, the city’s black sanitation workers, tired of poor working conditions and low wages, initiate a strike and call for recognition of their union and improved safety standards and pay. Various civil rights organizations and leaders, including King, support the strike. • April 3: At the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn., King delivers his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” • April 4: King is assassinated at his hotel in Memphis. • April 11: While protestors riot in several U.S. cities in response to King’s assassination, Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act. • June 6: Civil rights advocate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated after winning the presidential primary.
The Congressional Black Caucus is formed.
Black History Month is established by the Association for the Study of AfroAmerican Life and History.
In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court bars racial quota systems in college admissions, but upholds the constitutionality of affirmative action programs.
45 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
President Ronald Reagan signs a bill designating the third Monday in January as a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is first celebrated as a national holiday on Jan. 20.
Douglas Wilder, the first elected AfricanAmerican governor in the United States, is sworn in at the state capitol in Richmond, Va.
In Miller v. Johnson, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that racial gerrymandering of congressional districts is unconstitutional.
Former Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler is indicted for the Feb. 18, 1965, murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion, Ala. Three years later, after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter, he receives a six-month prison sentence.
46 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Barack Obama is elected 44th president of the United States. The nation’s first AfricanAmerican president-elect begins his victory speech: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
After winning re-election, President Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term.
African-Americans – nearly 40 percent of the municipal populace – were treated so violently that journalists had nicknamed the city “Bombingham.” In choosing a city whose police were commanded by the racist Connor, under the ultimate jurisdiction of Alabama Governor (and avowed segregationist) George Wallace, movement leaders signaled they would no longer target Southern politicians and public officials who couldn’t care less about African-American votes – they would, rather, aim for people’s wallets. Project C targeted downtown businesses, many of which served primarily black customers. Protests began on April 3, 1963, with
sit-ins at store lunch counters. Three days later, in a march on City Hall, protestors were arrested; when they marched again the next day, police beat them with clubs and unleashed attack dogs. City officials obtained a court injunction barring further demonstrations, which presented the movement with another crucial turning point: Its strength had always been rooted in its reputation as law-abiding. But King knew that to turn back now would cause Project C to fail. He declared the order unjust and, on April 12, Good Friday, announced his intention to obey an “injunction from heaven.” He marched on City Hall and was promptly arrested and thrown into solitary confinement, where he composed his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in the margins of a newspaper. The letter, a defense of nonviolent resistance to racism and a discourse on the moral imperative to break unjust laws, is today recognized as a masterwork, one of the principal documents in the canon of America’s civil discourse – as important and influential as Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” Upon his release, King planned the next stage of the Birmingham campaign – a mass march of local schoolchildren. On Thursday, May 2, hundreds of children, some as young as 6, gathered at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to march toward downtown. Police promptly began tossing them into paddy wagons, jailing nearly 1,000 children by day’s end. The following day, more than 1,000 more children skipped school to march, and Connor, his jails already full, resorted to force, loosing attack dogs and ordering firefighters to turn their hoses – which were powerful enough to tear the bark off trees – on the children. Protests continued for several more days. Across the nation – and around the world – television viewers were appalled by images of schoolchildren being attacked by dogs and blasted with fire hoses. Kennedy, who felt deeply ashamed and embarrassed for the United States, sent officials to help resolve the crisis. Finally a settlement was reached: Public facilities, including lunch counters, restrooms, and water fountains, would be desegregated in Birmingham, and local businesses would begin the process of hiring black employees.
AP PHOTO/BILL HUDSON
Policemen lead a group of black schoolchildren into jail following their arrest for protesting against racial discrimination near the city hall of Birmingham, Ala., on May 4, 1963.
Tradition, Leadership and Community
Bowie State University Chowan University Elizabeth City State University Fayetteville State University Medgar W. Evers, leader of the NAACP in Mississippi, was assassinated on June 12, 1963. In the dozen years that he was involved with the NAACP, he recruited new members and investigated incidents of racial violence, led voter registration drives and mass protests, organized boycotts, fought segregation, and helped James H. Meredith enter the University of Mississippi. Evers’ killer, white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith, was tried twice in 1964, in trials that resulted in hung juries. He was convicted at a third trial in 1994.
Johnson C. Smith University Lincoln University (PA) Livingstone College
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO
Saint Augustine’s University After the accord was reached, bombs exploded at King’s hotel and at the home of his brother, the minister A.D. King. The President again sent federal troops to stop the violence, and soon it was over: The South’s most segregated city had submitted to justice. That summer, to avoid Birmingham’s troubles, about 50 Southern cities desegregated. Still, the Birmingham protests provoked unrest throughout much of the country. In June, Mississippi’s NAACP leader, Medgar W. Evers, was gunned down by a local Klansman who, despite overwhelming evidence, would not be convicted of the murder for another 30 years. The Kennedy administration, fearing
further unrest, drafted legislation that would later become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the summer of 1963, as a bitterly divided Congress debated the bill, civil rights leaders decided to build on the success of Birmingham, a campaign that had captured international attention and won important rights for people throughout the South. King and his allies would be satisfied no longer with regional campaigns aimed at overturning local ordinances. To ensure passage of the new bill in the federal legislature, they would take their case to the nation’s capital – where the world, they knew, would be watching.
Shaw University Virginia State University Virginia Union University Winston-Salem State University
“Working together to aliv “Working together to keep the dream “Working together to kee 49 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
keep the dream alive” www.theciaa.com Twitter: CIAAFORLIFE
50 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
The Historic Demonstration and the Iconic Speech that Changed America BY CHARLES EUCHNER
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. climbed onto the wooden platform in front of the Lincoln Memorial, he encountered Harry Belafonte and the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Marcus Wood, an old seminary friend, sat about 20 feet from the podium. Stanley Levison. He clutched the typed Mahalia Jackson, the gospel singer whose voice blended the script of the speech he would give in pain and yearnings of oppressed blacks everywhere, awaited her moment on the stage. two hours.
PHOTO BY WARREN K. LEFFLER, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
wonder if the President will really understand what this day is all about,” King said. “If he doesn’t understand this one,” Levison said, “he’ll understand the next one.” On the National Mall, more than a quarter-million people had gathered to make sure that everyone from President John F. Kennedy down to the most modest shop owner understood that now was the time for America to embrace equal rights for all Americans. Everywhere King looked, he saw people with whom he worked, side by side, in the movement for civil rights. On the dais were the other leaders of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph, the black labor leader who dreamed up this grand day more than two decades before, emceed the program. Moving nervously around the podium was Bayard Rustin, America’s leading apostle of nonviolence who also organized the march. Daisy Bates, who guided the Little Rock Nine during the storms of desegregation in 1957, sat with other heroic women of the movement. Not far away was Roy Wilkins, the head of the National Association for
Civil rights and union leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, and Sam Weinblatt lead the way to the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
Down on America’s 300-acre front lawn, King looked out at the people waging a nonviolent civil war to claim the freedoms promised in the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. At the foot of the Lincoln Memorial were the “Young Jacobins,” the radicalized young people who were confronting segregation in its most violent precincts, in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana. The young activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had grown impatient with the movement’s twin pillars of nonviolence and integration. Words like “black power” were entering their lexicon. They often dismissed older leaders like King, whom they called “Da Lawd.” They were tired of waiting for their rights – and tired of listening to elders who had waited much longer. On the edge of the mall were three teenaged boys from Gadsden, Ala., who had hitchhiked to Washington. Arriving a week ahead of time, they called Walter Fauntroy, King’s friend who helped organize the march, in the middle of the night. Fauntroy put the boys to work making signs. As they hammered, King found them. In Gadsden a few days before, one of their parents asked King to look after their boys. So he did. Deep in the crowd was Harvey Jones, who marched that summer against the Charleston News and Courier for its distorted coverage of the movement. During one march, out of nowhere, a heavy beer mug whistled toward Jones’s head. When he tensed up, King whirled to confront Jones. “If you don’t think you can respond nonviolently,” King told him, “maybe you should leave the march.” Jones already knew not to fight back. But King’s stern words made a lifelong impression on him. Lena Horne, the singer whose 1943 rendition of “Stormy Weather” had become a standard, was too ill to perform that day. But she stood before the throng and shouted one word into Washington’s swamplike air: “Freeeeeee-dom!” That word cut through the crowd’s soft cacophony, uniting the throng for the first time.
51 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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The Dream and the Journey Continue... In 1961, we were proud to be the first public university in the Deep South to desegregate without a court order. Today, Georgia Tech is equally proud to: * serve as one of the nationâ€™s most diverse institutions of higher learning; * be a top producer of African-American engineers; * embrace diversity and inclusion as key to our vision of defining the technological research university of the 21st century. We remain committed to the dream of the great Martin Luther King Jr., as we continue to be a place where ideas converge, leaders emerge, all contributors are welcomed, and all contributions are valued.
One of King’s closest friends and colleagues, Dorothy Cotton, clutched her husband George’s hand as she worked her way to the podium to hear her boss speak. Cotton spent the previous night typing drafts of King’s speech. But exhausted by the day, the couple retreated to their hotel room to witness King’s speech on live national television. Walter Johnson, a retired New York cop who led the corps of more than 1,000 volunteer security guards, was on duty. With Rustin, Johnson trained the corps in the techniques of nonviolent crowd control. Now Johnson could bask in the day’s peace, at least partly because of his efforts. Those were just a few of the faces gathered for the greatest demonstration for freedom in American history. In a year, King would stand by President Lyndon B. Johnson as he signed historic civil rights legislation. In December 1964, King would be presented the Nobel Peace Prize. Later he would speak out against the war in Vietnam and the scourge of poverty in the wealthiest nation in history. Now, King got ready to define the civil rights movement – really for the first time – for the American people and the world. No single person could embody the movement, which was divided over goals, strategies, alliances, time lines, and language. But King possessed, without doubt, its greatest voice. And now he was ready to use it. Origins of the March
PHOTO BY ED FORD, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Labor leader A. Philip Randolph was instrumental in initiating and organizing the 1963 March on Washington.
Walking around the mall, a young Justice Department (DOJ) lawyer named Ramsey Clark surveyed the unprecedented mix of America’s teeming masses – priests, teachers, students, artists, small business people, the unemployed, factory workers, mothers – from a distance. “It was their day,” he recalled years later. At DOJ, Clark helped with security planning. Official Washington’s fear of violence dissolved as hundreds of buses and trains snaked into the city.
he March on Washington Movement began in 1941, when labor leader A. Philip Randolph called on blacks everywhere to put their bodies on the line for civil rights. For years, the civil rights movement split over two basic ideals. Booker T. Washington advocated forging vibrant black communities within the constraints of segregation. Blacks, he said, could create their own destiny by building schools, businesses, churches – and strong families and civic life – despite the violence and intimidation of segregation. W.E.B. DuBois, one of the founders of the NAACP, recoiled against this approach. DuBois exhorted the “talented tenth,” a vanguard of the brightest and most successful blacks, to lead an aggressive, uncompromising movement to topple segregation. Randolph – who the FBI called “the most dangerous Negro in America” for his successful campaign to organize black Pullman porters into a union – offered a third way. Blacks, he said, could escape their “slave mentality” and “inferiority complex” only by putting their bodies on the line. They needed to get on the street, march, speak with a strong voice, and demand their basic rights as citizens. And everyone in the black community – from janitors and sharecroppers to ministers and teachers – needed to join in. When wartime industries refused to employ blacks during World War II, Randolph organized a march of black men down Pennsylvania Avenue to protest. The marchers would expose the hypocrisy of Americans fighting for democracy abroad while denying blacks their basic rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt implored Randolph to cancel the march. Randolph refused. How many people would march, Roosevelt wondered. As many as 100,000, Randolph estimated. After long negotiations, Roosevelt issued an executive order banning discrimination in wartime
53 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
“I think that you who sit here today under the sound of my voice may well have the answer, for it is the student generation that is saying to America that there must be a radical reordering of priorities.” — Martin Luther King Jr. to Kansas State University students on Jan. 19, 1968
Delivering a powerful message. k-state.edu
Dr. King gave one of his last collegiate speeches at Kansas State University before his assassination in 1968. A recording of King’s speech is archived at the university’s library for all to celebrate King’s dream.
THE POWER TO TURN A DREAM
INTO REALITY. We are proud to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this very special 50th anniversary. We continue to be inspired by his words and actions as we work together for the benefit of the communities we serve.
Atlantic City Electric • Delmarva Power • Pepco
In 1962, the civil rights movement was in a lull. Students had led sit-ins and the Freedom Rides in 1960 and 1961. King’s 1962 Albany campaign ended in defeat. The movement needed a new push. Students began planning a massive Mississippi campaign and expanding the movement into Northern cities.
industries. It was the greatest civil rights victory since Reconstruction. So Randolph called off the march. But the dream of a massive demonstration never died. Rustin, who helped recruit marchers for the 1941 march, agitated for years for a massive Washington demonstration. Rustin was one of the nation’s leading advocates of nonviolent action. Nonviolence and civil disobedience offered a powerful strategy to confront injustice: When a critical mass of protesters refuses to obey unjust laws – peacefully – the authority of those laws crumbles. When King agreed to lead a bus boycott in Montgomery in 1955, Rustin was dispatched to advise the young minister. Behind the scenes, Rustin expanded King’s understanding of nonviolence – from Christ’s moral admonition to “turn the other cheek” into the most powerful tool of social revolution. Living in King’s basement, Rustin wrote speeches and protest songs and helped develop strategy for the burgeoning movement. Rustin not only taught the young minister but also brought him into a vast network of labor organizers, musicians and artists, fundraisers, media people, black businessmen, and pacifists. Randolph, meanwhile, called marches against the poll tax in 1942 and 1944 and against the segregated armed forces in 1948. Each time he called them off. In 1957, 1958, and 1959, Rustin helped organize rallies attracting 10,000 people on the National Mall for civil rights. In 1960, Rustin and King planned demonstrations at the two party presidential nominating conventions; those protests were called off at the last minute. In 1962, the civil rights movement was in a lull. Students had led sit-ins and the Freedom Rides in 1960 and 1961. King’s 1962 Albany campaign ended in defeat. The movement needed a new push. Students began planning a massive Mississippi campaign and expanding the movement into Northern cities. In the fall of 1962, Rustin asked a labor activist named Stanley Aronowitz to quietly ask labor organizations to support a march. In December, Rustin talked with Randolph about the economic crisis of the black community. Blacks faced a double squeeze in the deindustrializing economy. Technology was eliminating jobs in factories and farms. Meanwhile, blacks faced massive discrimination in construction and other jobs. Rustin asked Randolph whether he wanted to call a march on Washington for jobs and justice. Randolph said yes. Around the same time, King asked President Kennedy to issue a new emancipation proclamation on the centenary of the first. When Kennedy declined, King considered marking the anniversary by tracing the steps that Secretary of State William Seward took on Jan.
1, 1863, to deliver and certify President Abraham Lincoln’s historic executive order eliminating slavery in the Confederacy. But King dropped the idea. When Randolph asked Rustin to outline plans for a possible march, Rustin turned to two young labor organizers named Tom Kahn and Norman Hill. They wrote a memo suggesting a two-day “mass descent” on Congress and a mass rally to speak to the American people. With that memo, Randolph and Rustin began to push for a “march for emancipation” in the nation’s front yard. The Summer of 1963
irmingham changed everything. In April and May, King led a major assault on the Alabama industrial city. If segregation could be beaten in Birmingham – considered the most violent and racist big city in Dixie – it could be beaten anywhere. King and his lieutenants planned Operation C – for “confrontation” – meticulously. They mapped out Birmingham’s churches, schools, downtown, and jails and recruited key black figures in the city. They decided they would use a nonviolent campaign to challenge racism directly, provoking conflict. They knew they would get beaten and go to jail. But if they could survive, they could change history. One month in Birmingham united the movement – and revealed the brutality of segregation – like never before. King was arrested during a Good Friday march; in jail he wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” now the seminal statement on nonviolence. Thousands marched and thousands went to jail. Police beat marchers with nightsticks, sicced dogs on them, and mowed them down with fire hoses. TV recorded the violence, and the nation was particularly sickened when such heavyhanded tactics were used against a group of demonstrators – teenagers and some younger children – who were part of the “Children’s Crusade.” White business leaders called for city leaders to negotiate a truce. During the Birmingham campaign, King and his followers discussed a march on Washington. James Bevel proposed marching to the capital from all over the United States. But agreeing on a march would take months. After Birmingham, demonstrations broke out all over – some 2,000 in all, not just in the heart of Dixie but also in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. In the South, demonstrators demanded voting rights and equal access to schools, restaurants, beaches, pools, buses, churches, and libraries. In the North, they demanded equal housing, construction jobs, and integrated schools. As peaceful protests became violent, many young people grew impatient with the integration goal and the nonviolence tactic espoused by the movement. The charismatic Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X rejected both. At a rally in Harlem, he denounced white liberals, Jews, mainstream civil rights leaders, and the very foundations of American life. Segregationists, under siege, hardened their positions. White liberals – in Congress, business, foundations – grew leery of a movement that seemed to spin out of control. Somehow, the movement needed to be held together. A march started to make more sense than ever before.
55 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
ABBIE ROWE. WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHS. JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, BOSTON.
Hours later, a gunman shot and killed Medgar W. Evers, the NAACP’s lead organizer in Mississippi and one of the most beloved figures in the civil rights community.
On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation from the Oval Office and called for major civil rights legislation.
The Necessity of the March
n May 15, Randolph announced an “emancipation march” for October but couldn’t get enough leaders to help organize the rally. Wilkins of the NAACP and Whitney Young of the National Urban League declined the invitation. King sent his regrets. Randolph’s dream seemed to fade once again. But two days changed everything. In May, Attorney General Robert Kennedy met with a group of black cultural icons including author James Baldwin, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and psychologist Kenneth Clark. A young activist from New Orleans named Jerome Smith joined the group. He confronted Kennedy, declaring that he would not fight for the United States in a war because the country had abandoned blacks. Kennedy, shocked, looked for support. He got none. He left the meeting shaken.
The tone of White House meetings about civil rights changed dramatically. For two years, President Kennedy and his aides questioned blacks’ desire for public accommodations. “They can pee before they come into the store,” Robert Kennedy said in one meeting. But after the New York meeting, the Kennedys shifted their outlook. On June 11, hours after Alabama Gov. George Wallace attempted to block black students attempting to enroll at the University of Alabama, President Kennedy delivered a national address calling for major civil rights legislation. It was the strongest presidential statement ever on the issue. “The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated,” Kennedy said. “Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. … We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people. … Those who do nothing are inviting shame, as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right, as well as reality.” Hours later, a gunman shot and killed Medgar W. Evers, the NAACP’s lead organizer in Mississippi and one of the most beloved figures in the civil rights community. Suddenly, the civil rights movement – and the nation – needed the March on Washington. A march on Washington could not only press Congress to pass Kennedy’s civil rights bill – it could also bring the splintering movement together. It could mobilize supporters, from Capitol Hill to liberal allies, from foundations to Hollywood, from college students to union members. If they could come together for one day, they could also show America the true face of civil rights – not the radical, violent, impatient caricature of segregationists but a humble, determined, disciplined movement determined to force America to embrace its founding ideals. Planning the March
n July 2, Randolph hosted a meeting of the “Big Six,” the nation’s top civil rights leaders, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. In addition to Randolph, the head of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC), the group included King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Wilkins of the NAACP, Young of the National Urban League, James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). All agreed that the time was right for a massive march. But Wilkins said he would never accept Rustin as the organizer. No one understood organizing better than Rustin, but he was a
57 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Genuine Parts Company and its 36,000 employees are proud to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his dream for America.
AP PHOTO/HARRY HARRIS
The “Big Six” – leaders of the nation’s largest national black organizations – meet at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on July 2, 1963, to discuss plans for a march on Washington. They are, from left: John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Whitney Young of the National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph of the Negro American Labor Council; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
controversial figure: He was gay (openly); once joined the Young Communist League (a mistake, he said); and refused military service in World War II (as his pacifist philosophy demanded). When Randolph said he would lead the march, Wilkins agreed. Then Randolph named Rustin his operational man.
Within days, Rustin set up a planning headquarters in a Harlem brownstone. He hired a handful of young organizers and brought in a rolling wave of volunteers. Working from 10 in the morning till 2 at night, they arranged for transportation, security, logistics (everything from portable toilets to parade permits), fundraising, legal issues, souvenirs, and more. Rustin and the Big Six – later expanded into the “Big Ten” to include labor and religious leaders – dealt with politicians and celebrities. In Washington, King’s friend Fauntroy helped with federal agencies and the local details. Longtime event planners wondered how such a ragtag group could pull off the event. Inaugurations took two years of fulltime planning. Rustin let his lieutenants – people like Rachelle Horowitz, Joyce Ladner, Courtland Cox, and Cleveland Robinson – do their jobs and helped when they asked. They made to-do lists, checked tasks off the lists, and then made new lists. Most nights, when the rest of Harlem slept, Rustin gathered his team for progress reports. Sometimes Rustin, who once cut a record with Lead Belly, led the group in singing old spirituals.
59 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
“ Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The University of Southern California proudly salutes the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just a short walk from Brooklyn's famous Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza, Medgar Evers College, providing the only Central Brooklyn higher learning experience, recruits students who are in search of personal growth, academic achievement, cultural enrichment and community service. The College offers 18 Baccalaureate degrees including Accounting, Biology, Business, Childhood Education, Computer Information Systems, English, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Nursing, and Social Work to name a few. Our world-class faculty bring impressive academic and professional credentials, innovation, research, and quality to the classroom, and we provide a nurturing atmosphere for students to receive the support necessary to be successful in their chosen areas. The College also offers an ROTC Program for students seeking leadership training and an opportunity to be an officer in the United States Army. The Office of Admissions welcomes applications from high school graduates, transfer students, international students, professionals, and returning adults. Visit us today at www.mec.cuny.edu. Rudolph F. Crew President
“That which seeks to destroy the freedom of man, seeks to destroy the soul of man.” - Medgar Wiley Evers May 31, 1959
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PHOTO BY ORLANDO FERNANDEZ, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Top: Bayard Rustin, deputy director of the March on Washington, points out on a map the route marchers will take in Washington, D.C., during a news conference at the march’s headquarters in Harlem. Bottom: Cleveland Robinson, one of the march organizers, waves from a balcony at the March on Washington headquarters in New York.
Little actions made a big difference. Horowitz, the transportation coordinator, arranged with toll-takers to give out brochures and directions to the march. Hill traveled all over the country to sign up local march organizing crews. Whatever organization had the most sway in a given city – a local branch of the NAACP, SCLC, CORE, or NALC – got the job. Ossie Davis managed the celebrities. “He took care of prima donna land,” Horowitz cracked. Rustin was, above all else, pragmatic. He originally planned a march down Pennsylvania Avenue, sit-ins on Capitol Hill, and protests at the Justice Department. The march down Pennsylvania Avenue and sit-ins fell victim to security considerations and local ordinances. The DOJ protests were put off because of political considerations: The Kennedys were now the movement’s most important ally. Plans for an unemployed worker to speak were scuttled because of grumbling from the Big Ten. Every time Rustin announced compromises, his staff rebelled. “Sellout!” they yelled, half in anger and half in amusement. Rustin explained that the point of the march was to mass hundreds of thousands of people in Washington – to make the urgency of civil rights palpable – to sway the masses in the United States and abroad. CBS planned to cover the march live and it would be broadcast globally over the new Telstar satellite system. Rustin wanted to create a spectacle that would show the world that embracing civil rights was the only option. The Day
he Great Day began with a sabotage of the state-of-the-art sound system, trepidation about turnout, fears of
61 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTOS
The joyous crowd of marchers on the National Mall listened to musical performances and speeches from civil rights leaders before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the demonstrators.
violence, and quarrels over everything from women’s role in the march to John Lewis’s fiery speech. But as buses, trains, and cars rolled through Washington’s Romanesque boulevards, the movement’s unique energy took hold. Marchers wore t-shirts and overalls, plaid shirts and jeans, religious collars and sandwich boards, suits and dresses. Some sang – “This May Be the Last Time” – and others gossiped and explored the mall. The sounds of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the SNCC Freedom Singers, Odetta, and Peter, Paul, and Mary wafted through the air. Celebrities like Ossie Davis, Lena Horne, Dick Gregory, and Burt Lancaster took turns before the Washington Monument. Around noon, two vast rivers of humanity moved down Constitution and Independence Avenues. They carried signs, sang songs, danced, and marched. After long meetings on Capitol Hill, the Big Ten cut into the front of the line. But ordinary people really led the march. The streets filled with a joyous rumble, determined chants, freedom songs, laughter, and shouts of encouragement.
63 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
PHOTO BY WARREN K. LEFFLER LIBRARY OF CONGRESS NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
Snapshots of Aug. 28, 1963. Clockwise from top: Two people read news coverage of the March on Washington in the midst of a crowd of whites and African-Americans on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. • Children on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. • Demonstrators of different races took part in the march. • Marchers sing, contributing to the reportedly positive feel of the crowd that day. • One of the multitude of people who took part in the historic march.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO
Approximately 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
65 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
You can still feel the energy of the words spoken 50 years ago. On street corners across the country where ideas are exchanged, laughs are shared and problems disappear, the legacy still means everything. After 90 years of outfitting the pros who keep the conversation alive, Andis appreciates what a legacy can be.
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The dream is alive on street corners across America.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
When marchers assembled before the Lincoln Memorial, they heard from the Big Ten. “We are not a mob,” Randolph said, defying the caricatures of segregationists. Wilkins warned marchers against backsliding, quoting the Book of Luke: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Lewis expressed the raw passion and anger of young people whose lives were in jeopardy in Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and other bastions of the old Confederacy, which he called “a police state.” In an anguished voice, Lewis referred to the colonial struggles worldwide: “‘One man, one vote’ is the African cry. It is ours too. It must be ours.” Young described an ambitious agenda for social reform – the first public outline of many elements that would eventually find a place in President Johnson’s “Great Society” set of social programs. Other speakers warned about the dangers of injustice in a nuclear age and ignoring injustice as so many Germans ignored Nazism. Then, moments after Mahalia Jackson shook the mall with her transcendent gospel performance of “I Been ’Buked and I Been Scorned,” King stepped forward. The night before, two of King’s top aides – Wyatt Walker and Andrew Young – implored King not to use the imagery of a “dream,” as he had in Detroit weeks before. They called it cliché. King nodded, thanked them for their advice, then, after they left, he practiced those lines. As he stood, waiting, the crowd erupted in chants of “Hip hip, hooray!” Finally, he spoke. In a mournful drawl, he talked about the promise of Abraham Lincoln and deplored the conditions of the American Negro – “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination … on a lonely island of poverty … an exile in his own country.” Rejecting cries for patience, King declared that “now is the time” to confront centuries of racism. “It would be fatal,” he warned, to misread the temper of the times – that the “whirlwinds of revolt” would not end until segregation ended. “We cannot be satisfied,” King said again and again, without full citizenship. King admonished his people to maintain their discipline. The movement must remain nonviolent, he said. “We must not be guilty of wrongful deeds,” he said. Above all, he said the movement needed to avoid bitterness and hatred. Then King told his people – and fighters for freedom everywhere – that the struggle would be long and hard. When some of the marchers returned home, they’d face beatings and cattle prods and fire hoses. They’d lose jobs and homes. They’d get shot at. And of course they’d be the targets of the ugliest epithets. Then he uttered four words that captured the essence of the movement: “Unearned suffering is redemptive.” Those words were acknowledgement that no one in power gives up without a fight; that fighting for civil rights could be a dangerous business; that people would get hurt, even killed. But the pain and the loss would yield a better day. And then he moved on to the four most iconic words in American rhetoric: “I have a dream.” After reviewing the promise, tragedy, violence, injustice, and suffering yet to come, King described a better day, made more possible because of the throngs gathered below him. “I have a dream,” King said eight times, describing the splendid day when blacks and whites would live together in peace, when bastions of racism would give way to brotherhood, when the nation would live out its creed that all men are created equal.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his inimitable “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.
“I have a dream,” he said, practically in song, “that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” When King rejected his aides’ advice and talked about his dream, he wasn’t being romantic or glossing over the movement’s challenges. He was giving his people something that no one could take away – a vision of a better day. Racists could firebomb homes, take away jobs, beat and even kill blacks. Critics could argue about legislation, policies, strategies, and tactics. But no one could argue against a dream. Before the speech was over, the throng was dizzy.Young radicals who began the day bitterly complaining about “Da Lawd” now stood and screamed in ecstasy. Marchers felt surges of electricity – a renewal of hope they couldn’t have imagined just hours before.
67 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Most Americans can’t recall the sweltering August heat. Just a fraction witnessed the throngs of marchers on the Mall. But we all remember the words.
Capital One® is proud to support the 50th Anniversary commemoration of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, passengers for charter buses walk along a service roadway of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, to find their transportation home after the March on Washington.
Some marchers called out to each other. “I have …” one would say. “A dream,” the other would say. King concluded his oration with a stirring call: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” After the March
ith King’s final flourish, the crowd exploded – overwhelming the sound system with cheers and whoops while people hugged and cried and smiled. Below the memorial, the Young Jacobins, who had expressed skepticism about this gathering, formed a vast circle with locked arms and, swaying, sang “We Shall Overcome.” Crowds moved to the buses near the mall and to the trains waiting at Union Station. On the way home, jazz saxophonist John Handy decided to use his musical gifts to raise money for the movement. A
Minneapolis contingent led by that city’s mayor met Louis Armstrong in the airport and decided to participate in a campaign for civil rights in Mississippi the following summer. A young Washington girl named Ericka Jenkins decided to become a teacher. Fauntroy gathered “pledge” cards from marchers, which he would use to organize a massive letter campaign to help win Washington home rule. Visitors from South Africa thought, for the first time, they might defeat apartheid in their lifetimes. President Kennedy greeted the Big Ten at the White House. “I have a dream!” he said to King. Then they debated strategy for passing the civil rights legislation. And they discussed the broader ills of race and class – joblessness, poor schools, inadequate housing, and the crisis of the black family. In the final stretch of the journey for basic rights, they set their sights on a broader agenda. And the rest of America, haltingly, was moving toward expelling the worst poison from its system.
69 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Keep Dr. Martin Luther
Essential Reading Civil Rights History from Dr. King
The Global Vision of Dr. King
Dr. King’s account of the first successful large-scale application of nonviolent resistance—the Montgomery bus boycott—traces the phenomenal journey of a community and shows how Dr. King helped transform the nation—and the world.
This collection of Dr. King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice covers all the civil rights movement highlights—Montgomery, Albany, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and Memphis—and traces his dream of economic equality.
New introduction by Clayborne Carson
Edited and introduced by Michael K. Honey
Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. Includes “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
This collection is the first book to treat Dr. King’s positions on global liberation struggles through the prism of his own words and activities.
New introduction by Dorothy Cotton
Edited and introduced by Lewis V. Baldwin Foreword by Charlayne Hunter-Gault
In the last book written by Dr. King, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. New introduction by Vincent Harding
These are new editions of classic works by Dr. King that were published in his lifetime.
This collection of lectures illuminates Dr. King’s long-term vision of nonviolence as a path to world peace and contains many of his memorable oratorical set pieces, including “A Christmas Sermon on Peace.” New foreword by Marian Wright Edelman
Many of the writings and documents in these collections will be new to readers and present his vision for economic justice, human rights, civil rights, and world peace.
King, Jr.’s Dream Alive for All Americans The Religious Message of Rev. King “Thou, Dear God” is the first and only collection of prayers by Rev. King. The sixty-eight prayers are arranged thematically—with prayers for spiritual guidance, special occasions, times of adversity, times of trial, times of uncertainty, and social justice.
A Beautiful Collection of Photos and Quotes
Edited and introduced by Lewis V. Baldwin Foreword by Rev. Dr. Julius R. Scruggs A Gift of Love includes the sixteen classic sermons from Strength to Love, along with two new preachings. It presents present Rev. King’s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness.
This gift book, compiled by renowned photojournalist Bob Adelman, includes twenty-nine black-and-white photographs, stirring quotations, and a timeline of Dr. King’s life. Introduction by Charles Johnson
New foreword by Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock
Special Collections Published in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, this e-book collection includes works such as “I Have a Dream,” “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” and “I See the Promised Land.”
The first collection of Dr. King’s most important writings and speeches for high school students and young people has been carefully selected by teachers across a variety of disciplines. Introduction by Walter Dean Myers
Forthcoming November 2013
Read selections from these books on the King Legacy Series website, www.thekinglegacy.org. Books by Dr. King are part of the the King Legacy, a partnership between Beacon Press and the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Find out more at www.thekinglegacy.org and www.facebook.com/thekinglegacy. Available wherever books and e-books are sold.
www.beacon.org · www.facebook.com/beaconpress Twitter: @beaconpressbks
“I HAVE A DREAM”
Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963
72 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary – Washington D.C.
© BOB ADELMAN
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is captured by photographer Bob Adelman (noted for his photographs of the civil rights movement) as he delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech to a multitude of demonstrators from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
73 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary – Washington D.C.
Princeton Theological Seminary is Proud to Commemorate
the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
as our students and graduates
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Princeton Seminary is honored to support its more than 500 students and 11,000 graduates in discovering their calls to ministry, seeking justice, fighting for equality, changing the world, and following their dreams.
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As we honor the 50th anniversary of Dr. Kingâ€™s ever-inspiring â€œI Have a Dream!â€? speech, the Arcus Foundation and the Gill Foundation congratulate the National Black Justice Coalition and the A. Philip Randolph Institute on their commitment to strengthening bonds and bridging gaps between the movements for racial justice and LGBT equality.
â€œWhen an individual is protesting societyâ€™s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.â€?â€”Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin with A. Philip Randolph
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipati Proclamati I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
PICTURE © FLIPCREDIT SCHULKE/CORBIS
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest
I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
A Dream of a World Free of Poverty In the words of Dr. King, “Poverty is one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life….There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.” On this historic occasion, the World Bank Group honors and celebrates the dreams of Dr. King, and is inspired by his actions and his words, as we work to bend the arc of history toward ending poverty.
TO OTHERS INTELLECTUAL
TOGETHER, WE ARE CALLED TO
DO GREAT THINGS IN THE WORLD, AND FOR THE WORLD.
proud to be recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report
FIND OUT HOW MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY CAN HELP YOU DO GREAT THINGS! ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
ÂŠ FLIP SCHULKE/CORBIS
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
As we walk must make pledge tha shall alway march ahe to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, â€œ hen will you be satisfied e can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. e can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. e cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. e can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating â€œ or hites nly. e cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in ississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ustice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells.
GRINNELL COLLEGE > “Now the problem is that, although we have made of the world a neighborhood through our scientific and technological genius, we have not yet developed the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood.” — “Remaining Awake During a Revolution,” Grinnell College, October 29, 1967 Dr. King told Grinnellians that a revolution in human knowledge could connect us, but only a revolution in ethics would transform us.
At Grinnell, every aspect of your college experience — from the individualized, global curriculum, to the diverse campus, to the acclaimed Grinnell Prize that connects students with leading social justice innovators — will inspire you, transform you … and awaken you to the possibilities of a new revolution.
Honoring those who practice what we teach.
Photo by Robert Hodierne, courtesy of the Grinnell College archives
Thousands responded to his call.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO
I have a dream tha one day this nation will rise up and live Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
© FLIP SCHULKE/CORBIS
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
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We proudly join the national coalition commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic march, and his dream of freedom and justice for all. SUNY celebrates the diversity of New York and our nation— always striving to increase access, completion, and success in public higher education.
“Union Theological Seminary proudly honors the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Dr. King’s fierce activism and commitment to equality is an enduring source of inspiration for our students, for all Americans, and for people around the world.” Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President and Johnston Family Professor for Religion & Democracy, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
U N I O N T H E O L O G I C A L S E M I N A RY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK
NatioNal archives photo
And if Amer is to be a great natio this must become tru So let freed ring from th prodigious hilltops of N Hampshire. Let freedom I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the ord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
ut not only that let freedom ring from Stone ountain of eorgia
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
© FLIP SCHULKE/CORBIS
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
IN THE WORDS OF CORETTA SCOTT KING Reflections on the March on Washington and “I Have a Dream”
n the spring of 1963, the civil rights movement
astounded to see that such a huge crowd had gathered, and our
had gathered momentum as a result of the
successful demonstrations to desegregate public
The atmosphere all around the mall was charged with
facilities in Birmingham, Alabama. There was a
excitement. At the Lincoln Memorial, it was a struggle just to
rising sense of excitement about the future of
wade through the crowd to the speakers platform. From the
our freedom struggle. A. Philip Randolph, the
platform, I saw a vibrant sea of humanity stretching back toward
respected dean of African-American leaders,
the Washington Monument. It was an awesome spectacle, the
called for a march on Washington, and planning
largest nonviolent demonstration in American history, an estimated
began in earnest about six weeks before it was to be held. On August 27, 1963, the day before the march, my husband,
250,000 people. After several hours of speeches and songs, Martin rose to a
Martin Luther King, Jr., and I found ourselves in the Willard Hotel
rousing introduction by A. Philip Randolph. Almost immediately, I
in Washington. Martin had begun writing his speech several
could tell by my husband’s posture and the resonant tone of his
weeks before we came to Washington, and he planned to do
voice that we were in for something special.
rewrites and editing in our hotel room, with the support of some of his key staff members. It is impossible to say exactly when Martin began to conceive
Martin read the entire speech he had written the night before. Then he put aside his prepared text, and he articulated the yearnings of a race of people for justice and liberation, long
the key elements of the “I Have a Dream” speech because he
smothered by centuries of oppression, just poured out of his heart
expressed some of its ideas and phrases in earlier speeches. My
on the sweltering August afternoon.
husband worked on the speech all night, and when I went to bed around 2 a.m., he was still working. Martin had been allotted only 8 minutes for his speech because there were so many other speakers, and he was very concerned that he stay within the limit. Finally, Bayard Rustin, the coordinator of the March, came by our room. He said, “The 8-minute time because the people are coming to hear you.” I awoke that morning and realized that he had stayed up all night working on his speech. When he finished, everyone seemed satisfied that he had written a good speech. As it turned out, however, he would deliver a better one. About 9 a.m. or so, we became concerned about a news report that said only 25,000 people had gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. But we had hoped to get at least 100,000 people. By 10 a.m., however, the media was estimating that the mall was filling up fast – an estimated 100,000 people had arrived and started the March ahead of the leadership. We became very excited and headed down to the mall. By the time we reached the ellipse behind the White House, we were
82 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
AP PHOTO/JOHN BAZMORE
limit doesn’t apply to you, Martin. Take as much time as you need,
In the first part of the speech, Martin reminded America of the
There on the mall it seemed as if the beloved community had
sacred promise of equal opportunity as a cornerstone of a great
descended on the capital of America, if only for a few fleeting
democracy. Using the metaphor of a dishonored check marked
moments. There was a powerful sense of connection between
“insufficient funds” drawn against the promise of liberty for all
everyone at the mall, and by extension those who heard the speech
races, he spoke of the history of oppression experienced by
on radio and saw it on television.
African-Americans. Calling for a vigorous struggle for freedom
This speech, coupled with the massive turnout for the Great
and economic justice, he said, “The whirlwinds of revolt will
March on Washington, ensured the passage of the Civil Rights Act
continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright
of 1964. About 50 members of Congress present at the mall as
day of justice emerges.”
observers left inspired to provide the leadership needed to recruit
Then he called the Movement to an uncompromising recommitment to nonviolence as the most powerful force for
the support of their colleagues. President Kennedy watched from the White House and the
social change ever applied. He reiterated his firm refusal to allow
March leadership met with him afterwards in an effort to solidify the
bitterness, hatred or violence to contaminate our freedom struggle.
nation’s support of the Civil Rights Bill.
“Again and again,” he said, “we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” Martin expressed his wholehearted conviction that our freedom struggle must be inclusive and welcome white people into the ranks of our protest demonstrations. “We cannot walk alone,” he said. He articulated his determination to lead our struggle until
The “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most influential and widely quoted speeches of the 20th century. It remains the most vivid and eloquent description of the American dream, and its influence is still felt in the 21st century. We still have a long way to go before we realize Martin’s dream of a nation united in justice, equality and peace. But if we
segregation, disenfranchisement and economic justice were
keep faith with his teachings and join together with an energetic
eradicated, urging his followers to press on with the faith that
recommitment to create the beloved community, we will one day in
“unearned suffering is redemptive.” And then he launched into his
the not too distant future celebrate his vision as a glorious reality.
great Dream. With dazzling eloquence, he then called the nation he loved to a higher level of justice, nonviolence and interracial unity.
The words of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, January 15, 2003
CHANGING LIVES On March 15, 1963, Mississippi State University’s NCAA basketball game with Loyola University of Chicago helped bring down the walls of segregated college basketball in what ESPN has called the “Game of Change.” When MSU’s Joe Dan Gold shook hands with Loyola’s Jerry Harkness before the tipoff in East Lansing, Michigan, the explosion of camera flashes signaled the beginning of the end of a shameful era in American sports.
Mississippi State University, the most diverse university
in the Southeastern Conference and the most diverse predominantly-white land grant university in America, joins the nation in remembering the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the 50th anniversary of our own “Game of Change.”
The Aftermath of the “I Have a Dream” Speech
The opening of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s renowned 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech eloquently used the logic of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to frame the idea that people of color, like all Americans, are guaranteed equal, inalienable rights.
ing called the words of the two documents a “promissory note” on which America had defaulted. The nation had, in effect, given its Negro citizens a bad check, he said, adding, “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” Inasmuch as King intended the speech to decry the lack of equal treatment of black Americans, his vision for them and for the nation turned on the promise of opportunity. The years that followed his seminal speech were about opening the vaults, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The “I Have a Dream” speech has been called many things, nearly all of them laudatory. While its content and King’s inspirational delivery assuredly make it one of the great pieces of writing and oration of the 20th century, less often recognized is its remarkable brevity. In a little more than 1,500 words, King framed the hopes and demands of the 200,000plus people gathered around the Lincoln Memorial for the civil rights March on Washington and of black Americans across the country.
84 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
No other speaker that day in late August moved the crowd the way King did. His impact was far wider, transcending those present and those who supported the civil rights movement thanks in part to landmark television and press coverage. While the microphones amplified King’s speech, its core ideas captured the imagination of a large chunk of white America and of people around the world. “On that occasion he said what had to be said,” Dr. Clayborne Carson acknowledges. “One of the reasons the speech is so wonderful is that it’s cogent and emotionally powerful because it is concise.” Carson is the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, a professor of history, and founder/editor of the King Papers Project, established at the request of Coretta Scott King to edit and publish her husband’s papers. The compactness and the partly improvised nature of King’s speech are wonderful in their own right, but the address’ real significance lies in the role it played in calling attention to and building support for the civil rights movement and subsequent legislation. Sometimes forgotten is the fact that the event at which King gave his seminal speech was formally called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Black Americans weren’t just seeking the opportunity to sit where they liked on a bus or to be served alongside whites at lunch counters; they wanted the opportunity to carve out the lives of prosperity and the freedom of action the majority enjoyed. In this sense, King’s allusion to “vaults of opportunity” is just as important as his dream of racial harmony. “The metaphor of ‘insufficient funds,’” Carson says, “is something that most Americans understand. The speech is metaphorically rich and one of the things about metaphorically rich literature is that it helps people understand – it says, ‘this is like something else.’ It’s the essence of good writing, trying to use metaphors and parables that people are familiar with to explain something that’s a little more complicated.” Of course, civil rights were more complicated than a large crowd and a rousing speech. King intended the March on Washington to trigger action. Those who helped craft the
LBJ LIBRARY PHOTO BY YOICHI OKAMOTO
BY ERIC TEGLER
President Lyndon B. Johnson reaches out to shake Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.â€™s hand after signing the Voting Rights Act in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act was one of two pieces of significant civil rights legislation passed in the wake of the March on Washington.
85 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
A Legislative Goal
President Lyndon B. Johnson, center, meets with civil rights leaders (from left) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, and James Farmer in the Oval Office in January 1964. (Though not pictured here, Roy Wilkins and Lee White were also present at the meeting.)
It was for that purpose that King had met with President John F. Kennedy in 1962 and with President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Kennedy had stated his intention to introduce a civil rights bill, but not until the April 1963 Birmingham, Ala., demonstration and King’s subsequent arrest was the President spurred into action.The legislation, however, faced dim prospects in Congress, and with an election coming, King feared that Kennedy’s enthusiasm for the bill was fading. “My impression from the meetings,” Carson opines, “is that they had a cordial relationship but they were different types of people … It was important that they communicated with each other and respected each other, but in both cases there were some strains in the relationship. Part of that was because neither president wanted protests that were going to distract them from what they figured were other, more important concerns.” But for King there was no more important concern, both personally and for the nation. It prompted him to remind America of “the fierce urgency of now” in the “I Have a Dream” speech. He repeated the call to legislative action following the speech in a September article titled “In a Word – Now.” “What next?” he wrote, “The hundreds of thousands who marched in Washington marched to level barriers. They summed up everything in a word – NOW. What is the content of NOW?
Everything, not some things, in the President’s civil rights bill is part of NOW.’’ “Now” would have to wait a little longer. The assassination of Kennedy in November 1963 threatened to derail civil rights legislation entirely. No one, including King, was confident that Johnson would carry forward the bill that Kennedy had introduced. What’s more, the movement itself showed signs of decelerating despite King’s momentous performance in Washington three months prior. Sparse turnout at a November rally in Danville, Va., suggested that the civil rights leader would have trouble launching a planned campaign there. According to author/historian Nick Kotz (Judgment Days, 2005), King was truly concerned that the civil rights movement was losing momentum and undecided as to the tactics his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) should use to pressure Congress into approving legislation. Meeting in New York with key advisers, he was urged
LBJ LIBRARY PHOTO BY YOICHI OKAMOTO
speech were agreed that its real message was “reform of the legal system.”
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LBJ LIBRARY PHOTO BY CECIL STOUGHTON
Left: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others look on. Right: King delivers his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in the auditorium of Oslo University in Norway on Dec. 10, 1964. King is the youngest person ever to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and was recognized for his leadership in the civil rights movement and for advocating nonviolence.
to launch a new campaign, both to re-energize the movement and to forestall the mantle of civil rights leadership from passing to younger, more radical men. In an interview for his most recent book (Martin’s Dream, 2013), Carson reflected on the generational dynamics within the movement when asked about his own trip to the March on Washington: “I was intensely attracted to the civil rights activism of the early 1960s and eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to attend the march shortly after attending a student conference at Indiana University. Although I wanted to see King’s concluding remarks, I was also drawn to the younger activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC].” Differences of opinion about how best to advance civil rights existed long before the “Dream” speech and persisted thereafter. Nevertheless, Carson says that in 1963-1964, those in the movement knew they had a common goal. “I think everyone knew that they were on the same team. There were tactical and timing differences [within the movement] and sometimes harsh words between people like James Forman [then secretary of the SNCC] and King. John Lewis [SNCC chairman] was, in some respects, closer to King’s position. Part of it was age. Young people are less patient than people who are somewhat older and less willing to recognize that you could do something that’s counterproductive.”
King stayed focused on bringing civil rights laws into force as soon as possible. In a Jan. 4, 1964, column in the New York Amsterdam News, he reiterated that legislation was ‘‘the order of the day at the great March on Washington last summer. The Negro and his compatriots for self-respect and human dignity will not be denied.’’ He pressed that message at a meeting with Johnson at the White House 12 days later. As he did so, his prominence as the country’s foremost civil rights leader was cemented by his appearance on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year for 1963. Ratification of the 24th Amendment, ending the poll tax for federal elections (an often overlooked victory), in late January suggested the drive for legislation had accelerated. The civil rights bill passed the House of Representatives in mid-February 1964, but stalled in the Senate due to a filibuster by Southern senators that lasted 75 days. When at last the bill passed the Senate, King praised it as one that would “bring practical relief to the Negro in the South, and will give the Negro in the North a psychological boost that he sorely needs.” On July 2, Johnson signed the new Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law with King and other civil rights leaders present. The law prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public facilities. It was a momentous step and a personal victory for King, who nonetheless recognized that there was work yet to be done.
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One University. Endless possibilities. What makes Loyola University so special? Our students. Our faculty. Our staﬀ. We come from all faiths and backgrounds, and we’re shaped by our Jesuit tradition of helping the oppressed and disadvantaged. Making the world a better place: That’s what Loyola is all about. Learn more at LUC.edu.
Tear gas fills the air as activists marching from Selma, Ala., to the state capital of Montgomery are stopped by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, on what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” The state troopers, ordered by Alabama Gov. George Wallace, broke up the march with nightsticks and tear gas.
Highs and Lows and a March for Voting Rights The remainder of the year was a mixed one for King, the low coming later in the summer when he was stoned in Harlem by black Muslims who were at odds with his policy of nonviolence. The highs came in the fall and winter. In September, he visited Berlin at the invitation of its mayor, Willy Brandt. The civil rights leader figuratively walked in the footsteps of his father, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., who had visited Nazi-dominated Berlin in 1934 for an international Baptist gathering. King Jr. drew large enthusiastic crowds and made an unauthorized trip to East Germany, across the Berlin Wall, where he was similarly received. He stayed in Europe several additional days, receiving a private audience with the Pope. In December, he flew to Oslo, where he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming at 35 years old its youngest-ever recipient.
While disagreements over King’s style and nonviolent approach were publicly aired by militant activists from Malcolm X to Bobby Seale, differences with conservative civil rights leaders were less high profile. King’s tactics of gaining public sympathy by confronting segregationists with mass protests were criticized by a number of influential leaders, including Thurgood Marshall.
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I Have a Dream
Introduce the historic speech to a child. “This powerful picture book brings my father’s message to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward.” Illustration © 2013 by Kadir Nelson
—Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Includes a CD of the original speech
Marchers cross the Alabama River on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 21, 1965, the first day of the fiveday march to Montgomery, Ala. They were marching for voting rights for blacks, who were often discouraged from registering to vote, particularly in small Southern towns.
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ADP is proud to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of equality.
WVU of the core goals of WVU’s “One strategic plan is fostering diversity and an inclusive campus.” —WVU President Jim Clements
David M. Fryson, Esq. Chief Diversity Officer “West Virginia University is committed to the principles of diversity and inclusiveness. We are striving to expand the scope of our diversity initiatives in all aspects of our institutional experience.”
is fulfilling the dream of
Martin Luther King, Jr. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion reflects our commitment to promoting equality, civility and respect. We value the unique perspectives and experiences that each new Mountaineer brings to campus.
Jessica Deshler Assistant Professor, Mathematics
Joshua Dorsey Doctoral Student, Business Administration
Recognized for encouraging female college students to study math
Presented at the 2013 Winter Marketing Educators’ Conference and the 2013 American Marketing and Public Policy Conference
There is a place for YOU at WVU. DIVISION OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
AP PHOTO/DOZIER MOBLEY PHOTO BY DON RICE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Above: Three women, at left, process voter registration applications from several hundred black Americans at the Sumter County Courthouse in Americus, Ga., on Aug. 9, 1965, three days after the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Right: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks about the Vietnam War in New York City in 1967.
The recognition was welcome if exhausting. Still, King remained focused on the next big civil rights goal – ensuring that blacks were truly enfranchised. That meant formally prohibiting practices used to limit black voting including literacy tests and state election poll taxes. Swept into office in a landslide victory in the presidential race of 1964, Johnson was – civil rights leaders believed – in a solid position to mandate a push for legislation on voting rights. But as 1965 began, they perceived that the President was dragging his feet. King raised the issue with Johnson, but Carson relates that the President essentially told him that the time was not propitious for the voting rights campaign. Johnson had recently introduced a raft of Great Society legislation, much of which was going to help the black community, he said. King’s next move, in hindsight, was to be expected. His activism over the previous decade had been predicated on action calculated to draw public attention to racial inequities – from the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott to his arrest and subsequent jailing for demonstrating without a permit during the Birmingham campaign in 1963.
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AP PHOTO/HORACE CORT
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals on March 4, 1968, a poster planned to be used during the Poor People’s Campaign later that spring and summer.
When in February 1965 white segregationists attacked a peaceful group of demonstrators in Marion, Ala. – one of whom was fatally shot by a state trooper – King and the SCLC planned a protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles distant. Some 600 people set out from Selma on March 7, shortly finding themselves facing an array of Alabama state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge wielding nightsticks and tear gas. Images captured on television of the troopers rushing the marchers outraged many Americans, again thrusting civil rights and voting rights into the national spotlight. Keenly aware of that spotlight, King himself led another attempt to walk to Montgomery on March 9. State troopers again blocked the road; King and the marchers held a short prayer session at the
Edmund Pettus Bridge, then returned to Selma to await the time to make another atttempt. Alabama state officials tried to prevent the march from going forward, but on March 17, a U.S. district court judge ordered they permit it. The march and attendant media coverage forced Johnson’s hand. “The way King describes it,” Carson recounts, “is that Johnson said the timing was not right and through these protests the timing changed. Ultimately Johnson had to recognize that and introduce the legislation.” The President appeared on national television to pledge his support and lobby for new voting rights legislation he would introduce in Congress. The march resumed on March 21, protected by U.S. Army and Alabama National Guard troops. Four days later, the marchers reached Montgomery.
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GREAT EXPECTATIONS. REALIZED.
In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall Through December 8
Sponsored by Dr. Anita Blanchard and Martin Nesbitt and Cari and Michael Sacks. Additional support is provided by The Tower Project.
Tell It with Pride:
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial
September 15–January 20
Made possible through the generous support of GRoW, an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Trellis Fund.
National Gallery of Art
0OUIF/BUJPOBM.BMMGSPNUIUPUI4USFFUTBU$POTUJUVUJPO"WFOVF/8rAdmission is always free Monday–Saturday 10–5, Sunday 11–6 | 202.737.4215 | tdd 202.842.6176 | www.nga.gov
I to r: Kerry James Marshall, Our Town (detail), 1995, acrylic and collage on canvas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photography by Vancouver Art Gallery; Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Shaw Memorial (detail), 1900, patinated plaster, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire
AP PHOTO/CHARLES KELLY
By July, the Voting Rights Act had passed the Senate and House with large majorities. Johnson signed the act into law on Aug. 6, once more in the presence of King and other civil rights leaders. King was undeniably a catalyst for change, consistent in his approach, consistently at the center of public attention. That approach did not sit well with many in the movement. “There were lots of gradations from King’s position to the NAACP’s [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] position and everything in between,” Carson acknowledges. While disagreements over King’s style and nonviolent approach were publicly aired by militant activists from Malcolm X to Bobby Seale, differences with conservative civil rights leaders were less high profile. King’s tactics of gaining public sympathy by confronting segregationists with mass protests were criticized by a number of influential leaders, including Thurgood Marshall. Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP, preferred a legalistic approach to achieving racial equality. Reflecting on the era in an interview with author and political pundit Juan Williams, he said of King’s street protest tactics: “I didn’t believe in that. I thought you had the right to disobey the law and you have the right to go to jail for it,” adding, “I used to have a lot of fights with Martin about his theory.” Though he considered him an opportunist, Marshall conceded that King’s influence was vast. King’s starring role in the movement inevitably made him the target of criticism, and Carson says that the NAACP thought the protests were actually making its job harder in terms of lobbying and passing legislation. “Sometimes they were probably right, sometimes they were probably wrong. Without the activism, what legal cases do you have to try and win? If there is only activism, how do you get [legislative] victories?” However influence was wielded, major legislative victory had been achieved. As 1966 rolled in, King was already extending his vision. Poverty and the Vietnam War would become the causes to which he would direct his energy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968, during what would be his last public appearance. King was assassinated on his motel balcony the following day.
Freedom and Opportunity for All In January 1966, King moved into a Chicago slum tenement to highlight the living conditions of the poor. He planned further marches to call attention to poverty in
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MLK’s dream was one in which the “doors of opportunity” would be opened to everyone. ASU makes that dream a reality every day for our students.
Chicago and initiated a campaign to end discrimination in housing, employment, and schools in the city. In June, he joined the March Against Fear from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss. Stokely Carmichael’s “Black Power” speech at a rally during the march exemplified internal divisions between the old guard and new guard, the SNCC’s “Black Power” slogan now competing with SCLC’s “Freedom Now.” But for some time King had been moving in his own direction, Carson observes. “I think he was already moving away from working with the NAACP. I think he was beginning to see things in a broader sense, and I think the movement as a whole was beginning to broaden. When President Johnson gave his speech at Howard University  using the idea that you couldn’t simply remove the barriers to opportunity without changing the structure of opportunity – that got into the war on poverty. It wasn’t just King who was moving away from the civil rights agenda; the movement was moving away. That had been accomplished. Jim Crow had been defeated. That was the wonderful victory of 1965.” As various marches and campaigns unfolded in the United States, black and white soldiers were fighting and dying in Vietnam. King spoke about the war in front of a crowd at New York City’s Riverside Church in April 1967. In a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam,” he asserted that the war effort was “taking the young black men who have been crippled by our society and sending them 13,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.” His message was not well received, with critics objecting to the idea of fusing the civil rights and peace movements. Whatever the reaction, King remained philosophically consistent, adhering to the notion of nonviolence, which he had traveled to India to study. His objections to war in general and to Vietnam were in place well before the speech, Carson contends. “He was always critical of the war. But his position was that he had to give the administration time to negotiate. Taking a public stand against the war would undermine his relationship with Johnson. Johnson sent [United Nations] Ambassador Arthur Goldberg to talk to King and convince him that if he took a public stand against the war, it would encourage the
North Vietnamese to believe that if they simply sustained the violence, they would eventually win because of [American] anti-war sentiment. Goldberg advised King that being quiet and not undermining the stance of Johnson was better. King bought that for a while until he began to see that the negotiations were not really designed to end the war.” In late 1967, King furthered his antipoverty advocacy by announcing the start of the Poor People’s Campaign, the aim of which was jobs and freedom for the poor of all races. A march on Washington to demand an Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing employment for the able, incomes for those unable to work, and an end to housing discrimination was planned. For King, the idea was logically complementary with his anti-war stance, reflecting views that were universal. “That was always what he was trying to do,” Carson explains. “He was trying to broaden the focus of the movement. He wanted the movement to deal with human rights issues in the broadest sense of the term.” But by 1968, King was losing his following. The SCLC lacked the organizational punch it had deployed early in the decade. In March, a protest he led turned violent, a first for one of his events. Then, at sunset on April 4, King was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The ensuing national riots, arrests, and, finally, King’s funeral left the movement and America in general emotionally spent. Had King lived, perhaps the Poor People’s Campaign and associated causes would have gone forward. “The Poor People’s Campaign was in pretty bad shape when King was assassinated. It didn’t look like it was going to succeed,” Carson allows. “But one could also look at the campaign to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act through. When Kennedy was assassinated, if you had asked most observers whether a strong civil rights bill would pass or not pass, they’d probably have said no. Maybe with King around [the Poor People’s Campaign] might have gone forward. He was pretty good tactically.” In a way, his last campaign illustrates the fullness of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream as well or better than those that preceded it. It was the broadest expression of his wish to open the vaults of opportunity to all – black, white, American.
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Dr. King traveled over 6,000,000 miles for us. AARP and you, continuing the journey. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to making the world a better place for us all. The powerful legacy he left behind reminds us that even if it takes millions of miles more, together we can make it happen. At AARP, we are committed to ensuring that every generation has the power to carry the legacy of Dr. King even further and the opportunity to live the best life possible. To discover all of the work we’re doing in your community, visit aarp.org/blackcommunity.
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The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change BY ERIC SEEGER
PICTURE AP CREDIT PHOTO/ W.A. HAREWOOD
In the heart of Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue neighborhood stands as simple and solemn a monument as you will ever find in an American city: A tiered reflection pool that cascades about 50 yards or so down five stepped ponds reaching a small island centered in the final basin – the final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. School groups, families, and foreign visitors filter through the courtyard to pay their respects.
Jeffery Dunn, left, and his wife, Liza, share the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King with their daughter, Eliza, far right, and their niece, Keya Rice, during a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Ga.
Traffic bustles down a street nearby, but the noise melts away under the sound of King’s voice being played over loudspeakers, a recording from one of his speeches. In it, he’s warming up a crowd and talking of security threats that delayed his airplane. Later, he recounts his impressions of a meeting he had with President John F. Kennedy. As the kids and teachers and parents and tourists stand here, King’s voice washes away the thick coat of polish that has been built up after years of hearing the same sound bites over and over; there’s a renewed depth in his voice, which is full of compassion, fallibility, sometimes humor, understanding, and worry. Everyone in the pool’s adjoining courtyard walks a little bit slower and speaks in hushed voices out of respect. Gravity almost feels stronger here. Most of the visitors weren’t alive during the height of the civil rights movement, a years-long struggle that gets summed up into a tidy chapter in most modern history books. But here at the Martin Luther King Jr.
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For half a century, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have inspired millions to achieve their dreams—his passion, commitment, and integrity galvanized a nation and still serve as timeless reminders that each of us can make a difference. Booz Allen Hamilton is honored to support the 50th Anniversary commemoration of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, DC, August 23-28, 2013. We believe unique perspectives contribute to innovative ideas, which drive better results not only for our clients, but also for the world around us. To find out more, visit boozallen.com
AP PHOTO/JOHN BAZMORE
Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Dr. and Mrs. King rest amid their legacy – its past and its future. The King Center, as it is more commonly known, embodies Coretta’s vision to preserve not just her husband’s work but a complete record of the entire civil rights movement. “She knew that after her husband died, the story of the movement and Dr. King could be forgotten,” says Steven Klein, who has worked for the King Center since 1971. That’s why she wanted to create a center where the public could learn about it, where scholars could research, and where the message of nonviolence and nonviolent protest could be taught to future generations. In short, the King Center aims to keep the civil rights movement’s history grounded in fact – dispelling myths and disinformation alike. It also keeps King’s philosophy of nonviolence alive for the modern world. Museum Exhibits Today, the King Center, just blocks outside of downtown Atlanta, Ga., draws a steady flow of visitors through its courtyard and museum. The second floor of the main public building houses three standing exhibits focused on leaders in nonviolent
Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks during an interview at the King Center on Jan. 13, 2004. Mrs. King, who passed away in January 2006, established the King Center in 1968 as a place both to preserve records of her husband’s work and of the civil rights movement and to educate people on nonviolence.
protest: Dr. and Mrs. King, Rosa Parks, and Mohandas Gandhi. In truth, the exhibits at the King Center are modest in size, but the careful selection of items displayed allows for deep reflection on each. These are galleries where visitors are compelled to stop and consider what each piece meant in its time. Gandhi’s influence on King’s life was nothing short of lifechanging. After studying Gandhi’s teachings, King was convinced that this Hindu man had gone the furthest in applying Jesus’s teachings to an entire liberation movement. And at the heart of Gandhi’s work persevered his most indomitable trait: his humility. Therefore, it stands to reason that the King Center’s exhibit in his honor is a study in contrasts. International honorariums share the same room as small, personal notebooks and a simple
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let freedom ring
Honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy through inclusive excellence in higher education
JA S O N F O R D P H O T O
“ from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire…”
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WHEN CORETTA SCOTT KING chose to build the King Center on an empty lot in her husband’s neighborhood, she knew it would focus attention on an often-disregarded part of Atlanta. Today, the King Center sits near the heart of an urban national park that preserves and honors many of the key points in Dr. King’s life. Much of the neighborhood that makes up the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, including residential and commercial buildings, now appears as it did when King grew up and made his career there. Visitors can tour King’s birthplace, stop in at Ebenezer Baptist Church (where he was co-pastor with his father), and pay respects at the Kings’ tomb. Directly across Auburn Avenue from the center, the must-see National Park Service Visitor Center houses extensive exhibits about King and the civil rights movement. For more information, visit nps.gov/malu.
AP PHOTO/RIC FELD
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
The National Park Service Visitor Center at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site features exhibits about King and the civil rights movement.
©2013, THOMAS ENGLAND/ATLANTAPHOTOS.COM
spinning wheel. The spinning wheel came to symbolize both India’s rejection of Western rule and its economic independence – a statement that Indians didn’t need British cloth, that the country’s poor could spin their own and therefore meet their own needs. As such, spinning became the first symbol of modern nonviolent protest. In a small gallery down the hall, the “Mother of the Movement,” Rosa Parks, is honored. This exhibit tells the story of her personal protest, her arrest, and the ensuing Montgomery bus boycott that made “separate but equal” an issue that the nation could no longer ignore. The exhibit also includes artwork inspired by Parks and archival photos of her family, an evocative collection of portraits that represents a cross section of African-American society from the late-1800s through the civil rights era. Finally, the main exhibit room joins the legacies of Dr. and Mrs. King through two time lines that detail their lives through events chronicled nearly year by year. On the right side of the room, Mrs. King starts as an Alabama girl growing up in segregated society who eventually studies music at Antioch College in Ohio and later at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Mass. A singer and pianist, it is noted that many of her performances related to civil rights demonstrations and fundraisers. On the other side of the room, Dr. King’s time line shows a talented young man growing up as a preacher’s son in Atlanta. He graduates from Morehouse College by the age of 19, and by 21 he finishes seminary school. Mrs. King meets King while attending the conservatory. And once they marry and move to Montgomery, Ala., where he becomes the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at 25 years old, the pace of their time lines begins to move with the momentum of their times. The level of detail is staggering, showing the couple’s hectic, nonstop work that took them across the South and around the world. Yet the middle of the exhibit gallery reminds visitors how human the Kings were. A small piece of luggage, not much bigger than an ordinary laptop computer carrying case, contains a few clean shirts, some pants, some empty bottles of cologne, and a jean jacket – King’s personal travel clothes. Nearby, a wellworn pair of leather shoes invokes reflection of his journeys. His pastoral robe reiterates his role as a spiritual leader. Finally, his folder, with notes and a handwritten speech, stands in lowtech relief to modern media and technology; King had to take his message directly to the people, and these were his tools.
National Park Service tour guide Carol Ash, center, leads a group of visitors on a tour of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthplace on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Ga. The home is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
King Center CEO Bernice King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, speaks with Basem Fathy, an Egyptian human rights protestor, during his visit to the center in 2012. Fathy took part in a discussion about the global impact of the American civil rights movement.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KING CENTER
Preserving History Nowhere on Earth does there exist a larger, more complete archive of the civil rights movement than in the King Center’s third-floor library. This cooled and humidity-controlled facility has stacks of shelves running floor to ceiling and dozens of rows deep. Papers are stored in archival boxes, each neatly labeled with its contents: “Tom Levin,” “Congress on Racial Equality,” “Alabama Central Report,” “Watts Report,” and so forth. In all, the archive protects roughly a million artifacts – papers, books, pamphlets, letters, and so much more – relating to the civil rights movement. It also has copies of all of King’s personal writings as well as more obscure items, like film tins full of collected news footage of his demonstrations, or his personal recliner chair. In total, this is the largest collection of civil rights material in the world. “The African-American experience has been one full of historical omissions, and Mrs. King knew there would be difficulty in documenting [the civil rights movement] and in telling what really happened,” says Cynthia Lewis, lead archivist at the King Center. “In the course of time and the fragility of memory, you can find that things change – even if they are subtle changes, they can be significant changes.” Mrs. King was always concerned with recording the stories of her husband and civil rights movement stories as accurately as possible. “Part of that is collecting the information that was distributed, even at that time, to distort reality,” says Lewis of the archive’s unique documentation of the disinformation campaigns led against the movement’s leaders. “We must have enough information from all sides to be able to say, ‘No, this is what was actually so. This is the information that was circulated by the intelligence community about the activists,
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“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” —M ARTIN LUTHER K ING, JR .
At the University of Oregon, we share Dr. King’s goal of educating the hearts and minds of our students.
EO/AA/ADA institution committed to cultural diversity
Finally, what makes the King Center such a powerful living monument to King’s legacy is its continued promotion of nonviolent social change as it applies to modern society.
about the movement, about Dr. King. And it was circulated as truth.’ You want to have the rationale for what they deemed was appropriate [to spread].” Today’s newest concern has more to do with misinformation. It’s not uncommon for people to contact the archives looking for clarification surrounding facts about King or the civil rights movement, only to later reveal that their original material came from unverified and outright questionable sources. As knowledge suffers the Wikipedia effect, a need for a vast, solid base of information becomes more and more important. “Having an institution like this brings a broader perspective on the realities, and the rationale,” says Lewis. “This information needs to be readily available and accessible. … We are a primary source.” Lewis works with dozens of scholars and researchers every year. She says some come with plans to visit for a day or two and end up staying for weeks, because they had not expected to find so much material in one place. She has even seen members of the civil rights movement come in to look at documents pertaining to their own activity, only to expand their own recollection of events they already lived through. Beyond researchers, the archives also host students as well as professional groups such as librarians and archivists who want to learn more about the significance and day-to-day requirements of hosting such a collection. To date, a few thousand pieces of this collection have been digitized and made available via the King Center’s website, but, due to limited staff, it will be a long time before the collection is fully digitized. Until then, the best way to see this astounding collection is to arrange some time to see it in person. Teaching Nonviolence Finally, what makes the King Center such a powerful living monument to King’s legacy is its continued promotion of nonviolent social change as it applies to modern society. “Even when Dr. King was alive, he and Coretta wanted to teach the practice of nonviolence, but they had to travel from crisis to crisis during the civil rights movement,” says Klein. “So when Mrs. King decided to create the center, she wanted to have a monument and museum, but she felt the most important component would be education.” Throughout the year, the center hosts speakers who were involved in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s as well as contemporary practitioners of nonviolent protest. In 2012, the Middle East Institute’s Basem Fathy, a young human rights protestor whose social networking savvy brought Egyptians into the streets as early as 2008 to counter the Hosni Mubarak regime, visited the center. During the 2009 protests, comic books written in English, Arabic, and Farsi circulated to educate protesters on King’s philosophy of nonviolence. Fathy’s work eventually
Experience It: To learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change’s programs and see samples from its extensive archives, visit thekingcenter.org.
motivated millions of his country’s men and women to stand up to oppression, eventually force Mubarak’s resignation, and hold the country’s first real presidential election in more than 30 years. Despite current unrest, Egypt’s movement to oust Mubarak as its longtime ruler remained relatively peaceful, unlike many other countries that sank into war during the Arab Spring. This summer, the center continued its ongoing Nonviolence Opportunity Watch (NOW) Encounter, which aims to teach youths the philosophy of and tactics employed by King – otherwise known as Kingian Nonviolence. As King Center CEO Bernice King describes it, this is a “life-changing week, which will challenge and engage young people to use the power of nonviolence and help fulfill my father’s dream.” The program taught two classes of more than 90 teenagers lessons on identifying forms of perpetual institutional violence such as poverty, racism, and militarism. It also emphasized how to confront these evils – as well as everyday personal conflicts – in ways that avoid physical conflict by addressing the root causes of the problems. Students learn the Six Principles of Nonviolence and the Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change at the heart of the Kingian philosophy. This June and July, the NOW program worked with students from Atlanta, New Mexico, Detroit, Mich., and South Carolina for the weeklong education seminar. And this is the second year that NOW worked with groups of Christian and Muslim students from the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. The pair of weeklong sessions had students listening to lectures from community and civil rights leaders, doing workshops and having discussions about the practical application of nonviolence in everyday life, and visiting historic sites around Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., where the civil rights movement became solidified. NOW’s ultimate goal is to create future ambassadors of nonviolent change. As Bernice King summed up the June NOW session in prayer, “It doesn’t matter that we didn’t come through the same mother and father; we are all a part of the human family. And although we all come from rich cultures, it is in the commonality of those cultures that we find our oneness. … We’re committed to changing this world not with derogatory words; not with violent tones and violent acts; not with violent thoughts and violent hearts. We’re going to change this world with unconditional love, Father God. It doesn’t mean we’re going to always agree. But Lord, when we change this world, we’re going to learn to grow from our disagreements, and we’re going to find a way to still be one.”
111 I HAVE A DREAM 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO
One of the many buses that transported demonstrators to the March on Washington departs near the Washington Monument after the conclusion of the march.
Dr. King challenged our nation to uphold its
PROMISE OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT institutions of higher learning meet this same challenge. At Lehigh University we are committed to
UPHOLDING DR. KINGâ€™S VISION
as we work to provide our students with an education that builds not only knowledge, but
THE POWER TO OVERCOME Fifty years ago the nation witnessed how a courageous, unwavering vision can spur a great movement. Today, as we all salute this iconic figure of equality, The Rockefeller Foundation continues to support those with a dream for human progress â€“ just as we did beginning a century ago. Dr. Kingâ€™s words continue to inspire us during our Centennial year as much as they moved America on August 28. 1963.