50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Civil rights and union leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., Joseph L. Rauh Jr., Whitney Young and others pictured. (United States Information Agency/Wikimedia Commons)

Fifty years ago today, hundreds of thousands gathered on the Mall in Washington, DC to call for increased civil rights for African-Americans. Peniel Joseph, professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, and author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, reflects upon the March on Washington and Dr Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Watch: Martin Luther King's Speech and Performances from the March on Washington

On Twitter: #IStillHaveADream


Peniel Joseph

Comments [14]

LVSteveo1 from Las Vegas NV

My 1st encounter with 'legal' segregation was when I was going through basic training @ Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX in Fall 1956. We (5 of us including 1 black) tried to go to a movie in town but ticket lady indicated that the 1 black airman with us would have to sit in the 'balcony'. So instead, we went on a float trip on SA River w/o separating us. Being from Brooklyn NYC, even though virtually no blacks (except in 'projects' @ Canarsie Pier & @ Tilden H S) lived close to us (my'posse' mostly 1st generation Italian & Jewish kids born late/mid 30s).

Aug. 28 2013 02:50 PM
adrienne from UWS

Any thoughts, Brian on the important thoughts on Jewish participation in the Civil Rights movement? Or just Silence?

Aug. 28 2013 12:33 PM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca

Lee Daniels is a very successful gay, black, American film producer...therefore, the deck is not stacked against gay people or black people in any way, any more, and any American who were poor have only themselves to blame for not being a successful film producer, since there's room for an infinite number of those.

(Sounds less convincing when you substitute 'film producer' for President and add in 'gay'....)

Aug. 28 2013 11:24 AM
Oscar from NY

An embroidery of poetic justice

Aug. 28 2013 10:56 AM
Stew from Manhattan

Mr. Lehrer seems to have trouble accepting the prevalence of institutional and cultural racism in NYC and the rest of the 'North' in 1963.

Aug. 28 2013 10:53 AM
Carla from Sardinia, Italy

I'm sitting in Sardinia where I live now but I was at the march & I saw Paul Robeson there. He was a family friend. I found it very cruel that he was not onstage. I so wish you would recall Bayard Rustin's participation. thank you.

Aug. 28 2013 10:51 AM

I wonder where our Supreme Court Justice Roberts is today. Is he really awake?

Aug. 28 2013 10:48 AM
Amy from Manhattan

My father was in the March; my mother & we kids stayed home. I remember sitting on the stairs watching it on TV with my younger brothers (we were young enough to think maybe we could see Dad in the crowd). I'm not sure how much we understood about what was happening, but we had some idea, & we knew it was important.

Aug. 28 2013 10:32 AM
john from office.

Watts rebellion?? I guess Crown Heights was also a rebellion against Jewish oppression. Brian will now take all tales of woe, like the Howard Johnsons call at face value, I suspect there was more to that story.

The march was a great occasion, but lets not rewrite history and excuse poor behavior.

Aug. 28 2013 10:30 AM
James from Brooklyn, NY

I just wanted to let Brian know that Maryland is actually south of the Mason-Dixon Line which forms the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, in addition to separating Maryland and Delaware. Furthermore, Maryland was a slave state. John Wilkes Booth was a Marylander, in fact. So Jim Crow in Maryland should not have come as a surprise to anyone on the program.

Aug. 28 2013 10:28 AM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington, NY

In 1954, when I was ten years old, I vacationed in Virginia with my Mom and Dad. I am white--very white: white skin, red hair, freckles. So was my Mom. My dad had dark hair, skin that tanned easily. He worked outside, so he had a very dark tan. We went to dinner one night; the waiters stood in a cluster and ignored us. I can still see them. They thought my Mom and Dad were an inter-racial couple, and wouldn't serve us. I never forgot how I felt. No white person was more ready for Martin Luther King's speech, and message, than I.

Aug. 28 2013 10:26 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is less than three months away too.

Aug. 28 2013 10:23 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

Brian: Maryland is SOUTH of the Mason-Dixon line. First, the historical line itself is the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland as drawn by the surveyors Mason and Dixon. More importantly, though it did not secede during the Civil War, Maryland was a slave state right up to the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Aug. 28 2013 10:20 AM
ivan obregon from manhattan

Why can't liberals in the political and media establishment ever acknowledge that Martin Luther King (and Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, for that matter) were democratic socialists? Neoliberals like the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama do NOT share the same political philosophy or approach to addressing society's inequity and injustices; there is a difference in understanding what is wrong and what and how to do something about what is.....

Aug. 28 2013 10:18 AM

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