The March on Washington (1963)

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The March on Washington
In 1963, representatives from SCLC, SNCC, CORE and the NAACP organised a March on
Washington to commemorate the centenary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The march was designed to put pressure on the President and Congress to pass a Civil
Rights Bill.
King organised the march under the slogan `For Jobs and Freedom'.
President Kennedy was unsure about the march and feared it would become violent and
therefore jeopardise support for the Civil Rights legislation. However, King assured Kennedy
that the march would be peaceful. Notably, a significant minority of marchers (approx. 20%),
were white. This show of unity indicated the level of support for Civil Rights legislation.
On 28th August, 250,000 people marched to the Lincoln Memorial to hear speeches from
leading figures in the Civil Rights Movement, along with those from the religious and labour
King spoke, delivering his famous `I have a dream speech'.
Significance of the March on Washington
It presented the Civil Rights movement as a united front with common goals and
Despite Kennedy's fears, the march remained peaceful; this further increased white
support for the Civil Rights movement.
The nature and scale of the march attracted favourable media attention with the USA
and abroad. A newspaper in Ghana reported that the march was among the greatest
revolutions in the annals of human history.
The march solidified support for new Civil Rights legislation which would give the
government the power to force Southern states to desegregate.


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