Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black History Month: March on Washington!

On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 people from all over the United States participated in the March on Washington. The purpose of this peaceful demonstration was to press upon President John F. Kennedy, the Congress, and the American people the necessity and urgency of securing civil rights and economic equality for African Americans. The great mass of demonstrators - black and white, young and old, rural and urban - processed in an orderly fashion from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Monument, singing the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, "We Shall Overcome." Assembled in the shadow of Lincoln's seated statue and along the reflecting pool in front of it, the patient crowd heard four civil rights leaders speak before Mahalia Jackson sang "I've Been 'Buked and I've Been Scorned." The historic march reached its climax with Martin Luther King Jr.'s masterful delivery of his eloquent and inspired "I Have a Dream" speech.

The elation from the success of the March on Washington did not last. Less than three weeks later, on September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four African American girls in Bible class and wounding 14 others. More than 8000 people attended the funeral of three of the girls, at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave the eulogy.

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