Why We March
We march because by the grace of God and the force of truth the dangerous, hampering walls of prejudice and inhuman injustices must fall. We march because we want to make impossible a repetition of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis [anti-Negro riots] by arousing the conscience of the country, and to bring the murderers of our brothers, sisters, and innocent children to justice. We march because we deem it a crime to be silent in the face of such barbaric acts. We march because we are thoroughly opposed to Jim Crow cars, segregation, discrimination, disfranchisement, lynching, and the host of evils that are forced on us. It is time that the spirit of Christ should be manifested in the making and execution of laws. We march because we want our children to live in a better land and enjoy fairer conditions than have fallen to our lot.
Why We March, leaflet
Silent Protest Parade, 28 July 1917
(From Eyewitness: The Negro in American History by William Loren Katz, Pittman Publishing Corporation, 1971, p. 393)
“This is an hour of crisis. It is a crisis of democracy. . . . While billions of the taxpayers' money are being spent for war weapons, Negro workers are finally being turned away from the gates of factories, mines and mills—being flatly told, "NOTHING DOING." Some employers refuse to give Negroes jobs when they are without "union cards," and some unions refuse Negro workers union cards when they are "without jobs." Though dark, doubtful and discouraging, all is not lost, all is not hopeless. Though battered and bruised, we are not beaten, broken, or bewildered. Verily, the Negroes' deepest disappointments and direst defeats, their tragic trials and outrageous oppressions in these dreadful days of destruction and disaster to democracy and freedom, and the rights of minority peoples, and the dignity and independence of the human spirit, is the Negroes' greatest opportunity to rise to the highest heights of struggle for freedom and justice in government, in industry, in labor unions, education, social service, religion, and culture.”
A. Phillip Randolph
Excerpt: “Call to Negro America to March on Washington for Jobs and Equal Participation in National Defense” Black Worker 14, May 1941
(Full text can be found at http://multimedialearningllc.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/randolph-questi...)
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. . . . But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. . . . In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Excerpt: “I Have a Dream” speech, 28 August 1963
“. . . I honor my late husband Raymond Parks, other Freedom Fighters, men of goodwill who could not be here. I'm also honored by young men who respect me and have invited me as an elder. Raymond, or Parks as I called him, was an activist in the Scottsboro Boys case, voter registration, and a role model for youth. As a self-taught businessman, he provided for his family, and he loved and respected me. Parks would have stood proud and tall to see so many of our men uniting for our common man and committing their lives to a better future for themselves, their families, and this country.”
Excerpt from remarks
Million Man March
16 October 1995
“Fifty years later we can ride anywhere we want to ride, we can stay where we want to stay. Those signs that said "white" and "colored" are gone. And you won't see them anymore – except in a museum, in a book, on a video.
But there are still invisible signs buried in the hearts in humankind that form a gulf between us. Too many of us still believe our differences define us instead of the divine spark that runs through all of human creation.
The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger or the renewed struggle for voting rights.
So I say to each of us today, we must never, ever give up. We must, [n]ever give in. We must keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize.
We did go to jail, but we got the Civil Rights Act. We got the Voting Rights Act. We got the Fair Housing Act. But we must continue to push. We must continue to work, as the late A. Philip Randolph said to organizers for the march in 1963.”
Congressman John Lewis
“Let Freedom Ring” Ceremony
50th Anniversary March on Washington
Excerpt from speech
28 August 2013
One final, timely and salient thought from Dr. King on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. . . .
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
March on Washington program (public domain) http://blog.oup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/MOW3.jpg
March on Washington We March signs
Photo by Marion S. Trikosko, photographer (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons http://blog.oup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/MOW5.jpg
March on Washington aerial view (public domain)