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MICROPOLIS: Revisiting the 1963 March on Washington

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington (Doranne Jacobson)

The March on Washington  — 50 years ago today — brought a quarter million demonstrators to the nation's capital, but it was planned and coordinated right here, in New York. It was an enormous logistical operation, years before cell phones and email, and it all happened uptown, in an office on 130th Street in Harlem.

The New York contingent was so big, that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops -- Horowitz said for the first time they were allowed to travel without their guns, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.
MILDRED ROXBORO: The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here, and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue. 

 

The New York contingent was so big that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington from across the city.

Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by chief organizer Bayard Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops: Bayard's aide Rachelle Horowitz, who served as transportation coordinator, said officers were allowed to travel without their guns for the first time, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion.

Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, said  the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.

"The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here," said Roxboro, "and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue."

For the full Micropolis story, listen to the episode above.

 

The March on Washington brought a quarter million demonstrators to the capital, but it was planned and coordinated right here, in New York. This was an enormous logistical operation, years before cell phones and email, and it all happened uptown, in an office on 130th street, in Harlem. The New York contingent was so big, that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops -- Horowitz said for the first time they were allowed to travel without their guns, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.MILDRED ROXBORO: The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here, and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue. The New York contingent was so big that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by chief organizer Rustin Bayard in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops: Bayard's aide Rachelle Horowitz said they were allowed to travel without their guns for the first time, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community. "The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here," said Roxboro, "and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue. For the full Micropolis story, listen to the episode above.The New York contingent was so big, that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops -- Horowitz said for the first time they were allowed to travel without their guns, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.MILDRED ROXBORO: The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here, and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

The New York contingent was so big that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by chief organizer Rustin Bayard in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops: Bayard's aide Rachelle Horowitz said they were allowed to travel without their guns for the first time, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.

"The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here," said Roxboro, "and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

 

For the full Micropolis story, listen to the episode above.

The New York contingent was so big, that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops -- Horowitz said for the first time they were allowed to travel without their guns, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.MILDRED ROXBORO: The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here, and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

The New York contingent was so big that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by chief organizer Rustin Bayard in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops: Bayard's aide Rachelle Horowitz said they were allowed to travel without their guns for the first time, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.

"The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here," said Roxboro, "and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

 

For the full Micropolis story, listen to the episode above.

The New York contingent was so big, that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by Rustin in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops -- Horowitz said for the first time they were allowed to travel without their guns, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.MILDRED ROXBORO: The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here, and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

The New York contingent was so big that the MTA ran extra subway trains after midnight. Hundreds of buses set out for Washington, from across the city. Black firefighters made the trip, having been trained by chief organizer Rustin Bayard in non-violent crowd control. So did local cops: Bayard's aide Rachelle Horowitz said they were allowed to travel without their guns for the first time, because Mayor Robert Wagner lifted a city ordinance just for the occasion. Mildred Roxboro, an NAACP activist in her 80s who grew up under segregation in Tennessee, says the amount of effort that went into the event corresponded to the mounting tension within the civil rights community.

"The feeling was that we have been pushed to a precipice here," said Roxboro, "and we have got to do something to get the conscience of this nation involved, so it can be understood that this cannot continue.

 

For the full Micropolis story, listen to the episode above.

 

Contributors:

Merritt Jacob

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Comments [6]

M Perry from New York

I find it disturbing that no Republican President has participated in this commemoration. Surely one of the Bushes should have had something to say about this moment in American History. A recap of past Republican Presidents accomplishments ( yes there were some ) would have been an indication that equal rights is not solely the realm of Democratic Presidents. As the remaining two living past Presidents they had a duty to America to point out that equal rights crosses party lines..
They point up the current Republican philosophy that white America is all that counts.
Republicans wonder why their appeal is so narrow and can only maintain their position by working to deny voting rights to minorities. No mystery here

Aug. 28 2013 04:08 PM
RJ from prospect hts

It was "The March on Washington **Jobs and Freedom**." Why do you leave it out of the title of the Micropolis section?

Aug. 28 2013 11:24 AM
Arun from New York City

ER SHIPP, sorry for the mistake. It's been corrected. If it's any consolation, we got it right in the audio version!

Aug. 28 2013 09:00 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

Is there a commemoration happening in NYC today?

Aug. 28 2013 08:47 AM

I was a adolescent during that period in Harrisburg, PA. I can remember the fear I had riding in a car with my mother, younger sister and her black grade school friend. It was not a fear blacks, I was afraid of the whites. I must have been hearing a lot threats from white backlash.

I know it was not coming from my own home, because a few years later when a black family moved to the end of our street, a neighbor across the street went around with a petition to ask them to move, my mother told the man that she would not sign, but if anyone came around with a petition to ask him to move she would sign that one. Each and every neighbor adjacent to that family's home was targeted. But we were not going to move and neither did they.

Aug. 28 2013 08:28 AM
ER SHIPP from Baltimore

YOU GOT THE NAME WRONG!!! It is "Bayard Rustin" notnotnot "Rustin Bayard".

Aug. 28 2013 07:41 AM

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