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The March On Washington For Jobs And Freedom
Author Name: ruthrobinson
Date added: January 20, 2011 10:49:51 PM
Category: Arts & Humanities: News and Media

“…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 a last!” With these concluding words of his historic seventeen minute ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. raised his hands in the air with heart chilling meaning as applause and cheering erupted throughout the Lincoln Memorial. It was August 28th, 1963 and thousands of people had joined together to partake in what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his opening line, “will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a political rally that was held to advocate civil and economic rights for African-Americans. The number of participants in this historical protest varied from 200,000 police to over 300,000 march leaders. It was estimated that 75-80% of the marchers were African-American, while the rest were either white or other minorities. On the day of the March, transportation was overloaded as more than 2,000 buses, 21 trains, 10 chartered airplanes, and an unknown number of cars filled the streets of Washington. The march, which began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial, included speeches from the six civil rights leaders, also known as the “Big Six,” and performances from well-known musicians at the time, including folk singer Bob Dylan and gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Not only was it a day for protest, but also a day for celebration as many felt that this rally would bring about change for African-Americans. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a day for peacefully stirring the present to help make for a more equal future. The march is considered to have been a major influence and to have helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. While it could have turned out to be a very violent protest, with both blacks and whites present, the march was a notably peaceful rally that included different races that all wanted the same change. However, fast forward to 2010 when, according to the Huffington Post on March 20th, racist terms were shouted by Tea Party protesters to members of Congress. After the president’s speech was addressed to a group of House Democrats, thousands of protesters gathered around the Capitol to object the enactment of health care reform. A staff member of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C) told reporters the inflammatory terms that were being said to the congressmen by the Tea Party protesters. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot” and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a former leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, was called the “N” word. Rep. James Clyburn was thoroughly disgusted with the words he heard being shouted. “I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus,” Clyburn told the Huffington Post. “It was absolutely shocking to me.” While many people may not fully agree with what Congress does or passes, the questions that need to be answered are, “Why must derogatory terms be used?” and “Why take our country a step backward when we have come so far since that day in Washington on August 28th, 1963?” The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom has gone down in history as a peaceful protest that made a change. Author Hal Fleming weaves his own life experiences participating in the civil rights movement into his new mystery novel, Once Upon a Storm. The book, which can be purchased at Amazon.com, is set back in the 1960s during the conflict of the civil rights movement, and readers follow the lives of the different characters during this turbulent time. One of the main characters, Buddy Ames, is of West Indian decent and was present at the March on Washington. After hearing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Buddy follows his dream of becoming a folk singer and ‘sing the songs of understanding and hope.’ The March on Washington will never be forgotten and in Once Upon a Storm you feel as if you are standing there with the great leaders of the civil rights movement as Hal Fleming illustrates, ‘…it was about the words and passion of The Man which soared above the great mall, the sterile government buildings, the tens of thousands who drank in all the emotion, who gasped with complete understanding of the dreams of King.’ Civil Rights, March of Washington


The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a political rally that was held to advocate civil and economic rights for African-Americans.

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