The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and JFK
President Kennedy is out on a political limb. He’s committed his administration to a major new civil rights bill, which he outlines in a nationally-televised address on June 11, 1963. The following week, he submits it to Congress. But its passage is very much in doubt and he needs all the support he can get. Now he’s learned that civil rights and labor organizations are planning a big demonstration in the capital this summer which they are calling “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Kennedy is afraid that it will hurt rather than help his chances of getting the bill through Congress.
On June 22, the same day he’s scheduled to leave on an important European trip, the President has a pre-arranged meeting with civil rights leaders. A. Philip Randolph, the respected black labor leader is there. He’s the driving force behind the proposed March. Martin Luther King Jr. is also present and has joined Randolph in supporting the demonstration. The president tells the group he doesn’t want “a big show in the capital” that could jeopardize passage of the bill. Read More
Photo: Children near the Washington Monument at the Civil Rights March on Washington. 8/28/63. http://research.archives.gov/description/541995
March on Washington Program with map. Among others, the Big Six will speak: A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, James Farmer, Whitney Young Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Martin Luther King Jr., all leaders of separate civil rights organizations. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/MISCACC-2003-036
Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”
Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.
After retiring from baseball, Robinson turned much of his attention to civil rights issues. He wrote to several Presidents about the cause, and even attended the March on Washington.
Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.
January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was the first African American to “officially” play in Major League Baseball. When he retired from the game, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights from his position as a prominent executive of the Chock Full o’Nuts Corporation. Robinson had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as President Eisenhower’s failure to act decisively in combating racism. In this letter, he expresses his frustration and calls upon the President to finally guarantee Federal support of black civil rights. Shown here is Robinson’s 1958 letter to President Eisenhower, and a photo of Robinson with his son at the March on Washington D.C. in 1963. Jackie Robinson passed away on this day, 39 years ago.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was the first African American to “officially” play in Major League Baseball. When he retired from the game, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights from his position as a prominent executive of the Chock Full o’Nuts Corporation.
Robinson had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as President Eisenhower’s failure to act decisively in combating racism. In this letter, he expresses his frustration and calls upon the President to finally guarantee Federal support of black civil rights.
Shown here is Robinson’s 1958 letter to President Eisenhower, and a photo of Robinson with his son at the March on Washington D.C. in 1963.
Jackie Robinson passed away on this day, 39 years ago.
Faces at the Civil Rights March on Washington
In 1963, when civil rights leaders announced plans for a March on Washington, President Kennedy initially opposed the idea, fearing a large demonstration in the capital could turn violent and jeopardize the civil rights bill. After a meeting with the leaders, he was persuaded that the march was “in the great tradition” of American protest.
Among the crowd of over 200,000 who gathered on August 28 for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom were:
-Sidney Poitier, Harry Belefonte, and Charlton Heston on the Lincoln Memorial
-Children, including the young girl above with a banner
-Musicians Joan Baez and Bob Dylan
-Author James Baldwin and actor Marlon Brando
-Former National Basketball Association player, Bill Russell
-Entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.
-Actor Lena Horne
-Former National Baseball League player, Jackie Robinson with his son
More striking images from the crowd can be found here.
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.
In August 1963, more than 200,000 Americans celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation by joining the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Key civil rights figures led the march, including A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin, and Whitney Young. But the most memorable moment came when Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
This photo is a wide-angle view of marchers along the mall, showing the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. August 28, 1963.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened this week in D.C. His memorial is the first on the National Mall to be dedicated to an individual other than a U.S. president.
"It seemed as if every time he spoke, he said something I wanted or needed to hear" said Rosa Parks of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pictured here, Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at the Civil Rights March on Washington D.C. MLK in the crowd at the March. Leaders of the March meeting with President Kennedy in the White House. August 28, 1963.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial opened this week in Washington D.C. More posts to come in celebration of Dr. King and the anniversary of the March on Washington D.C.