AP®︎/College US History
Read about the 1963 protest that culminated with Dr. Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.
- The March on Washington, which took place on August 28, 1963, was one of the largest civil rights rallies in US history, and one of the most famous examples of non-violent mass direct action.
- At the march, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech, which envisioned a world where people were judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
- The March on Washington was highly publicized in the news media, and helped to gather momentum for the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
The Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington
The March on Washington brought together many different civil rights groups, labor unions, and religious organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Nevertheless, not all civil rights activists were in favor of the march. Bayard Rustin, though one of the main organizers of the march, was concerned that it would turn violent and damage the international reputation of the Civil Rights Movement. Others, like Malcolm X, who helped popularize the militant Black Power Movement, derided the March on Washington because of its nonviolent, integrationist approach. Calling it the “Farce on Washington,” Malcolm X condemned black civil rights activists for collaborating with whites and accepting donations from whites.
On August 28, 1963, 250,000 protestors converged on the National Mall in Washington, DC to demonstrate in favor of full civil, political, and economic rights for African Americans. The March on Washington was one of the largest demonstrations for human rights in US history, and a spectacular example of the power of non-violent direct action. 1963 was the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and one of the major themes of the rally was that the promises of emancipation remained unfulfilled. The march began at the Washington monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial, where representatives of the sponsoring organizations delivered speeches.
The last speaker of the day was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered what became the most famous speech of the entire civil rights era, the “I Have a Dream” speech, which envisioned a world in which people were judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Because of this, a popular misconception has arisen that it was Dr. King who initiated the rally. In fact, the idea for a march on Washington belonged to A. Philip Randolph, a black labor leader who headed the Negro American Labor Council at the time of the march, and had previously organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African American labor union in US history.
African American demands for economic justice
The sole purpose of the March on Washington was not to eliminate Jim Crow laws, though the protestors certainly desired to bring a swift end to the segregation that had been institutionalized in the South after the Civil War.
Though the organizers of the rally demanded the desegregation of all schools, the majority of the demands revolved around issues of economic justice – like equal access to public facilities and accommodations, housing, education, and jobs.
Many in the Civil Rights Movement had come to believe that the economic deprivation and exploitation of African Americans was just as significant a problem as racism. At the time of the March on Washington, Congress was debating civil rights legislation, and widespread news coverage of the rally helped to draw the nation’s attention to these issues and to attain broad public support for the protestors’ demands.
One of the most important demands was for a federal Fair Employment Practices Act, which would ban discriminatory hiring practices. This demand would be realized the following year, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The demand for the enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment, moreover, would finally be realized with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which eliminated the barriers to black enfranchisement that had been erected as part of Jim Crow.
What do you think?
How did the demands presented at the March on Washington reflect the evolving goals of the Civil Rights Movement?
What arguments did Dr. King make in his "I Have a Dream" speech? Why do you think the speech was so effective?
Did the March on Washington reveal a Civil Rights Movement that was united or divided?
What was the outcome of the March on Washington? Did the news media play an important role?
Want to join the conversation?
- What was the "I have a dream" speech?(4 votes)
- The "I Have A Dream" speech was written and performed by Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement that spoke of an enduring "dream" that Martin Luther had where black and white individuals would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the course of their actions". Basically, the speech was a huge stride by Martin Luther to end segregation, especially when you discover that thousands of black and white individuals attended the speech and cheered him on.(13 votes)
- how does the march on washington differ from previous marches?(3 votes)
- The March on Washington was the largest march in the civil rights movement as far as number of people and it brought together many of the different groups in the movement. It was also highly publicized and influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There's also the fact that it was to Washington D.C., as many mass marches to Washington are remembered because of Washington's status as the nation's capital, like Coxey's Army with the Gold Standard or the Bonus Army with veteran pensions.(16 votes)
- Did the March on Washington reveal a Civil Rights Movement that was united or divided? give some examples and answers(8 votes)
- on MLK what did his button say(5 votes)
- Here is a link to a picture where the button can be more clearly seen. It has the text "March on Washington" with a handshake comprised of two races. Also written on the button is 'Jobs and Freedom'. https://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2014/01/i-have-a-dream-speech-P.jpeg(3 votes)
- For the 8th grade MAP Test, you will have 100- 130 minutes to read, plan, draft, revise/edit, and execute a full piece of writing. That means that ALL the steps must be done in a row and in a short amount of time. To practice, we will be writing one of each type of writing. Today you will begin with a narrative. Type your narrative on a Doc and submit it in CANVAS.
Directions: Read the two articles and watch the video about the March on Washington. (Source 1Links to an external site. and Source 2Links to an external site. and VideoLinks to an external site.). Next, write a narrative essay for your teacher about a person who attended the March on Washington.
HINT: Make a plan before you begin writing!
please help(4 votes)
- What arguments did Dr. King make in his "I Have a Dream" speech? Why do you think the speech was so effective?
He was arguing that nomatter what your race is, you should be equal. And he's right. Everyone should be equal. Women, blacks, hispanics, whatever.
I really like this quote.....
"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 . . ."(4 votes)
- How did the speech I have a dream change the life of black people.(2 votes)
- why did Martin luther King once just said. I am going to make a seech and it going to be a great speech.(1 vote)
- The man was a preacher, trained for making speeches, and accustomed to making good ones.(3 votes)
- What was something the 1995 Million Man March and the 2020 March on Washington did not have in common?(2 votes)
- the million-man march was organized by the nation of Islam to combat the stereotypes of black people. It was a recruiting opportunity of sorts of NOI. this is what it has in common with the 2020 march on washington(2 votes)