FEATURE OF THE MONTH
The 1963 March on Washington
Each month, the editors of the Oxford African American Studies Center provide insights into black history and culture, showing ways in which the past and present interact by offering socially and historically relevant short articles, picture essays, and links that will guide the reader interested in knowing more. This month the feature highlights the 1963 March on Washington and some of the well-known people who were involved in the landmark event.
Initiated by A. Philip Randolph, the march was sponsored by five of the largest civil rights organizations in the United States. The major organizers and leaders of the march were Randolph, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King Jr. Planning for the event was complicated by differences among groups and their leaders. Bayard Rustin, who organized the first Freedom Ride in 1947, orchestrated and administered the details of the march in just two months out of a small office in Harlem, New York.
Participants arrived on 28 August in chartered buses, private cars, trains, and planes. One man famously roller-skated from Chicago. By the time the march began at the Washington Monument around 250,000 people had gathered. The diverse crowd included African Americans and whites, young people and old, rich and famous Hollywood movie stars and musicians, and everyday people. Moving down Constitution and Independence Avenues, the peaceful crowd gathered before the Lincoln Memorial to hear a day of speeches and performances, most famously Mahalia Jackson's rendition of "I've Been 'Buked and I've Been Scorned," and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.View photo essay
The following articles have been selected to help guide readers who want to learn more about the March on Washington, the individuals who participated, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. (Access to the following articles is available only to subscribers.)
Primary Source Documents