On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Below is the front page story the AFRO ran about the event. While the fight for civil rights continues today, many of the same groups opposing civil rights back then, such as Nazis, are still trying to deny African American those rights. Next week the AFRO will run historic images from the march.

By Arthur Hatfield


August 31, 1963

200,000 Voices Will Be Heard!

More than 200,000 civil rights crusaders can be credited with creating a turning point in American history.

As participants in the great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, they have given birth to a new national conscience which is demanding civil rights and equal employment for all Americans without delay.

There is no way of telling now how much the Aug. 28 march will stimulate the actions of Congress in considering President Kennedy’s civil rights program.

(AFRO file photo)

There is no question, however, that the imprint left by multitudes of civil rights marchers will linger on many a legislators mind.

The march was the largest group petition for rights ever made in America.

Most civil rights crusaders believe that the demonstration will contribute greatly to keeping the civil rights issues before the Congress and the American public until effective legislation is passed.

High on the list of march objectives, of course, is the matter of awakening reactionary Republicans and Southern Democrats to the point of acting favorably on civil rights.

Congressmen in this group include some of the most important figures in Washington. They hold down top party positions and are chairman of influential legislative committees.

As of now, the forecast for Congressional debate on the rights issue extends to the start of 1964.

President Kennedy has stated that he knows of no reason why the legislation should not be passed in 1963.

This is one goal of the march, to dramatize the need for enactment of national civil rights and fair employment laws—without compromise or filibuster—now.

Advanced planning for the massive demonstration stressed the importance of the marchers being orderly, even solemn in spirit.

March leaders ruled out demonstrating at the Capitol and the White House. Instead, it was decided to hold a mammoth march from Washington Monument to Lincoln Memorial.

The plan included a call on the White House by selected rights leaders and a report of the meeting with the President and Congressional leaders made at the Lincoln Memorial Rally.

All of the Senators and Representatives were invited to listen to the 10 leaders of the march, speaking for three minutes each on the demands for equality in jobs and civil rights.

March headquarters invited participation by civil rights fighters who have faced tear gas, water hoses, electric jolts, police dogs and arrests.

Seats of honor were assigned for Mrs. Medgar Evers, wife of the Mississippi leader who was killed from ambush; Mrs. Gloria Richardson, leader of the Cambridge, Md. drive; Mrs. Daisy Bates of Little Rock, and Rosa Parks, a leader in the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott in 1955.

“We do not expect any trouble,” District Police Chief Robert V. Murray said many times.

The only angry voice was that of George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, who toured Virginia for volunteers for his “countermarch” on the day of the demonstration.

District and march officials were prepared for any eventuality. City and National Park Service police were reinforced by about 2,000 marchers under the direction of William H. Johnson, a New York City patrolman who volunteered his vacation time for the job.

In all, 10,000 men were picked to direct the mass influx of buses and automobiles.