March on Washington Amiyah Rucker

Background Information

Twice in American history, more than twenty years apart, a March on Washington was planned, each intended to dramatize the right of black Americans to political and economic equality. The first march was proposed in 1941 by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Blacks had benefited less than other groups from New Deal programs during the Great Depression, and continuing racial discrimination excluded them from defense jobs in the early 1940s. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt showed little inclination to take action on the problem, Randolph called for a March on Washington by fifty thousand people. After repeated efforts to persuade Randolph and his fellow leaders that the march would be inadvisable, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in June 1941, forbidding discrimination by any defense contractors and establishing the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to investigate charges of racial discrimination.

The March on Washington

As blacks faced continuing discrimination in the postwar years, the March on Washington group met annually to reiterate blacks’ demands for economic equality. The civil rights movement of the 1960s transformed the political climate, and in 1963, black leaders began to plan a new March on Washington, designed specifically to advocate passage of the Civil Rights Act then stalled in Congress. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference put aside their long-standing rivalry, black and white groups across the country were urged to attend, and elaborate arrangements were made to ensure a harmonious event. The growing disillusion among some civil rights workers was reflected in a speech planned by John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, but in order to preserve the atmosphere of goodwill, leaders of the march persuaded Lewis to omit his harshest criticisms of the Kennedy administration. The march was an unprecedented success. More than 200,000 black and white Americans shared a joyous day of speeches, songs, and prayers led by a celebrated array of clergymen, civil rights leaders, politicians, and entertainers. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s soaring address climaxed the day; through his eloquence, the phrase “I Have a Dream” became an expression of the highest aspirations of the civil rights movement. Like its predecessor, the March on Washington of 1963 was followed by years of disillusion and racial strife. Nevertheless, both marches represented an affirmation of hope, of belief in the democratic process, and of faith in the capacity of blacks and whites to work together for racial equality.

Protestors came from around the country to be a part of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington.

Women's Suffrage Movement

On Election Day in 1920, millions of American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once. Also they are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet nearly 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn a fair and equal wage.

But on August 26th 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” -Martin Luther King Jr

Cited Work

Encyclopedia Britannica (n.d.). March on Washington | United States history [1963]. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

Global Fund for Women (n.d.). Women's Human Rights and Gender Equality | Global Fund for Women. Global Fund for Women. Retrieved from

N.a (n.d.). Women's Rights Movement in the U.S.: Timeline of Events (1980-Present). Retrieved from -movement-us-1

Economic Policy Institute (n.d.). Key goals of 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are still unmet. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from 1963-march-washington-jobs-freedom/ (n.d.). March on Washington - Black History - Retrieved from (n.d.). The Fight for Women’s Suffrage - Women’s History - Retrieved from

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Amiyah Rucker

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