Tuesday, February 26, 2008

March on Washington changed America

(Ty Warden is an eighth grade student in Mr. Randy Turner's communication arts class at South Middle School during the 2007-2008 school year.)

On August 28, 1963, two hundred fifty thousand people gathered in Washington D.C to attend the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This was the second time the march had been scheduled, and it would not be canceled. Many civil rights organizations helped plan the march. The “big six” were among these.

The “big six” consists of the six most important civil rights leaders. The "Big Six" organizers were John Lewis, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); James Farmer, of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE);Martin Luther King Jr., of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Roy Wilkins, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP); A. Phillip Randolph, of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and Whitney Young, Jr., of the National Urban League. Lots of people were at the march. People probably thought they were bored but there was like lots of stuff to do. There was people who played music, like, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul, and Mary; Josh White and like lots more. There were some people that didn’t want the march to happen, like Malcolm X, and John F. Kennedy, and the Ku Klux Klan. When President Kennedy heard the march was going on for sure, he thought it was okay, but hoped for the best.

The best speeches were John Lewis and Martin Luther King. They are still two of the best in history today. John Lewis said “The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, "We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have been waiting hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands, and create a great source of power, outside of any national structure that could and would assure us victory." For those who have said, "Be patient and wait!" we must say, "Patience is a dirty and nasty word." We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.”

A lot of the people thought that there would be a lot of fighting and mad people there but there wasn’t. The two thousand nine hundred police officers that had been scheduled to work the march were not needed. This was going to be a civil protest.

Many things were meant to be mentioned at the march, including the following, (according to .S. New & World Report- September 9, 1963.) Passage of "meaningful" civil-rights legislation at this session of Congress- no filibusting, Immediate elimination of all racial segregation in public schools throughout the nation, A big program of public works to provide jobs for all the nations’ unemployed, including job training and a placement program, A federal law prohibiting racial discrimination in hiring workmen- either public or private, $2-an-hour minimum wage, across the board, nationwide, Withholding of federal funds from programs in which discrimination exists, Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment, reducing congressional representation of states where citizens are disenfranchised, A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include currently-excluded employment areas, Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any constitutional right is violated.
Many of the speakers spoke, and were hoping to persuade every one to “step up their civil rights activates.” However, when martin Luther king jr. started to talk, everything changed. (http://www.angelfire.com/pa/marchonwashington/march.html)

He stood up there and said “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” Later in the speech he mentioned “This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.” He ended the speech with “And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last Thank God Almighty, we are free at last. (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm)

The March on Washington was the largest political gathering to this date. The police were so worried of a riot that the army and national guard were put on high alert, locals were given riot control training, police dogs were banned, and paratroopers were put on alert as well. To ensure a peaceful day, liquor sale was banned for the day, shops closed, and even a baseball game postponed. But what actually happened that day was more of peace than riot, at least the true outcome was. The men and women that participated that day were some of the greatest heroes of the civil rights movement because of the courage and message that they got across to the American public.

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