1963 March on Washington Kenneth Kwan

Why was there a March?

Ongoing Racial Inequality

After numerous accounts of African Americans still being undermined, many civil rights leaders took further action in 1963. They focused on ending segregation among the most segregated states, primarily Birmingham, Alabama (Getchell, 2016). Peaceful protests were first put together, but harsh responses led to higher tensions. Riots broke out in Birmingham as the city police stepped in and started using physical force. Due to the overwhelming news, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. with one common interest, ending racial inequality. They sought to push the U.S. congress to pass and enforce laws to give equal opportunities to all races, especially between whites and blacks. Specifically, their goal was to solve economic injustice in education, housing, and public services.

What were the Protests like?

Many demonstrations in Washington for this movement were non-violent. They focused on gaining President Kennedy's attention in order to increase the chances of him passing more laws. Created and organized by civil rights activists A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, the 1963 March on Washington gained national attention as a total of about 250,000 white and black people congregated the Lincoln Memorial (Corley, 2013). Speech by speech, people gave out their personal testimony, but one famous speech stuck out. The well-known "I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. ended the rally at Washington, D.C. with an uproar and gave demonstrators and viewers at home a sense of hope for the future.

Overcoming Obstacles

Other than trying to capture the president's attention, there were distinct obstacles protestors had to deal with. Before the March on Washington, demonstrators were faced with harsh threats. From police dogs to firehoses, they had to overcome the brutal retaliation of people against desegregation. In hard times like these, Martin Luther King Jr. called out "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” (Galien, 2006). Through King's wisdom, many found motivation to withstand the racial oppression.


Concluding the 1963 March on Washington with a powerful speech, Martin Luther King Jr. received an invitation to meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. They discussed provisions towards economic equality among blacks and whites. Coming to a conclusion, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 came into place and provided labor laws that strictly prevented discrimination against race, religion, and national origin. 50 years later, the same act is still in place and is helping the minority attain jobs without racial discrimination.

2017 Arab Prejudice

Leading to President Trump's Executive Order, some are blaming immigrants from the Arab Nation to be the leading cause of terrorist attacks. The president's first proposal would prevent any Arab of Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Iran without permanent residence in the U.S. from entering the country. Major backlash erupted as large groups of Americans came together to express their contradictory views on the decision. Like the 1963 March on Washington, non-violent demonstrations were used in these rallies and the cause of the two movements were due to the discrimination of people with different origins. As the March on Washington included both whites and blacks, the protest against Arab prejudice also included people of varying ethnicities and races. In terms of leaders, there were state senators that stepped up and vowed they would put their efforts towards overturning Trump's proposal. In New York, State Senator Chuck Schumer announced to the public that he would "fight with every fiber in my being" to end Arab prejudice. (Gordts, Miller, Abbey-Lambertz, & Wing, 2017).

Works Cited

Corley, C. (2013). The Man Who Organized The March On Washington. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/08/15/212338844/bayard-rustin-the-man-who-organized-the-march-on-washington?scrlybrkr=fa2a3ee1

Galien, M. (2006). Just and Unjust Laws: According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Retrieved from http://themoderatevoice.com/just-and-unjust-laws-according-to-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/

Getchell, M. (2016). The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-us-history/period-8/apush-civil-rights-movement/a/the-march-on-washington-for-jobs-and-freedom

Gordts, E., Miller, H., Abbey-Lambertz, K., & Wing, N. (2017). Protests Against Trump’s Executive Order Don’t Let Up. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-executive-order-protests_us_588e2c36e4b08a14f7e69de4?scrlybrkr=3631fc75


Created with images by MCS@flickr - "Lincoln Memorial Building, Lincoln Memorial" • jrr_wired - "THE DREAM" • Kheel Center, Cornell University Library - "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at an AFL-CIO event" • jrr_wired - "PROTESTABLE" • viganhajdari - "handshake business hand" • Fibonacci Blue - "March in support of immigrants and refugees"

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