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9 Things About MLKs Speech and the March

 
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    Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 5:40pm

was anyone else there today?




9 things about MLK's speech and the March on Washington



The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd near the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. On the 50th anniversary of this historic civil rights event, we take a look back through rarely-seen color photographs from the day. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd near the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. On the 50th anniversary of this historic civil rights event, we take a look back through rarely-seen color photographs from the day.
Civil rights protesters clap and cheer. An estimated 250,000 people participated in the march.
Leaders of the rally, including King in the center, interlock hands and arms as they march. The march was organized jointly by James Farmer, of the Congress of Racial Equality; Dr. King, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; John Lewis, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; A. Philip Randolph, of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Roy Wilkins, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Whitney Young, Jr., of the National Urban League.
Protesters sing at the march.
A protester sings at the march.
A demonstrator holds a protest sign at the rally.
Musician Odetta Holmes plays a song during the march.
King stands with Rabbi Joachim Prinz, center, by his side.
The crowd cheers during the event.
African-American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. attends the rally.
Demonstrators crowd together as they listen to civil rights speakers during the rally.
A woman attends the rally.
Actor Burt Lancaster speaks to protesters at the Lincoln Memorial at the event.
Actor Sidney Poitier, left, and Singer Harry Belafonte talk with one another during the march.
Baseball player Jackie Robinson, right, attends the rally with his son David.
A. Philip Randolph, who helped organize the rally, stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Civil rights leaders from left, Whitney Young Jr., Martin Luther King Jr., Walter Reuther, Eugene Carson Blake, and John Lewis stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the march.
Demonstrators gather around the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial before the beginning of the march.

(CNN) -- "I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin."

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words in 1963, but this was not the speech that would go down as one of the most important addresses in U.S. history.

King spoke these words in Detroit, two months before he addressed a crowd of nearly 250,000 with his resounding "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on August 28, 1963.

Several of King's staff members actually tried to discourage him from using the same "I have a dream" refrain again.

As we all know, that didn't happen. But how this pivotal speech was crafted is just one of several interesting facts about what is one of the most important moments in the 20th century in the United States:

MLK's speech almost didn't include "I have a dream"

King had suggested the familiar "Dream" speech that he used in Detroit for his address at the march, but his adviser the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker called it "hackneyed and trite."

So, the night before the march, King's staff crafted a new speech, "Normalcy Never Again."

King was the last speaker to address the crowd in Washington that day. As he spoke, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out to King, "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin."

Then he paused and said, "I still have a dream."

Walker was out in the audience. "I said, 'Oh, s---.'"

"I thought it was a mistake to use that," Walker recalled. "But how wrong I was. It had never been used on a world stage before."

The rest, of course, is history.

First page of a draft of King's "I Have a Dream" speech (PDF)

Handwritten text on back of "I Have a Dream" typed draft (PDF)

The march almost didn't include any female speakers, either

It was only after pressure from Anna Arnold Hedgeman, the only woman on the national planning committee, that a "Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom" was added to the official program.

It took further convincing to have a woman lead it.

Daisy Bates spoke in the place of Myrlie Evers, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Bates, president of the Arkansas NAACP who played a key role in integrating schools in Little Rock, told the crowd: "We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit-on and we will kneel-in and we will lie-in if necessary until every Negro in America can vote. This we pledge to the women of America."

Earlier, Josephine Baker, an internationally known American entertainer who had moved to France to find fame, addressed the crowd. Dressed in a military jacket draped with medals for her contribution to French resistance in World War II, she spoke in very personal terms about freedom:

"You know I have always taken the rocky path. I never took the easy one, but as I get older, and as I knew I had the power and the strength, I took that rocky path, and I tried to smooth it out a little. I wanted to make it easier for you. I want you to have a chance at what I had. But I do not want you to have to run away to get it."

Women had been central to the civil rights movement -- Diane Nash, Ella Baker, Dorothy Height and many others -- but were only included in the program that day after one woman spoke up.

The most prominent white speaker was called the "white Martin Luther King"

Walter Reuther was the head of the United Automobile Workers, which provided office space, staff and funding for the march in Detroit and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was the seventh speaker listed on the program, and shared his remarks to the crowd.

"We will not solve education or housing or public accommodations as long as millions of Negroes are treated as second-class economic citizens and denied jobs," he said.

In 1998, Time Magazine included him in its list of Builders & Titans Of The 20th Century. Irving Bluestone, Reuther's former administrative assistant, shared this popular story to explain who Reuther was at the March on Washington: "Standing close to the podium were two elderly women. As (Reuther) was introduced, one of the women was overheard asking her friend, 'Who is Walter Reuther?' The response: 'Walter Reuther? He's the white Martin Luther King.'"

An openly gay man organized the march in less than two months

Bayard Rustin is "the most important leader of the civil rights movement you probably have never heard of," as LZ Granderson put it in his recent CNN column. Not only did he organize the march in a matter of months, Rustin is credited with teaching King about nonviolence. He also helped raise funds for the Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

During the time, his sexual orientation was known, and he was often in the background to prevent it from being used against the movement.

Fifty years after the march, Rustin, who died in 1987, will be honored with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in November.

It wasn't the first planned 'March on Washington'

Labor leader and civil rights advocate A. Philip Randolph had threatened a "March for Freedom" on the National Mall in 1941 to pressure then-President Franklin Roosevelt to provide equal opportunity for defense jobs. Randolph hired Rustin to organize part of the march, which they felt was the only way to prompt action after numerous appeals.

It worked: The march was called off after Roosevelt established the Fair Employment Practices Committee, abolishing racial discrimination in hiring.

The march was a Hollywood star-studded event

Popular actor and singer Harry Belafonte used his star power to help bring other celebrities to the March on Washington. Besides reaching out to the stars themselves, Belafonte went to many of the studio heads in Hollywood to get prominent actors and actresses temporarily released from their duties so they could participate.

He was successful. The Hollywood list of attendees that day read like a who's who of A-listers: Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Charlton Heston and Burt Lancaster, who also gave a speech.

But having the Hollywood stars there wasn't just for show or for increased media attention. It also helped calm President John F. Kennedy's nerves about the march.

"I believe that their presence did a lot to assuage people who were preoccupied with the fact there could be violence," Belafonte said.

"One of the things that I said in my conversations with the Kennedys in discussing why they should be more yielding in their support of our demonstration was the fact that there would be such a presence of highly profiled artists -- that that alone would put anxiety to rest," he added.

"People would be looking at the occasion in a far more festive way."

One march worker fell asleep during MLK's speech

Back in 1963, college student Patricia Worthy took a job answering phones for the March on Washington's planning office. She had 10 phone lines to answer, and they rang from the time she walked in until she left for the day.

"I recall one day I'll never forget, I heard someone say, 'Where is this young lady who handles the phone?' And finally I looked up, and there he was -- Dr. King -- and he said, 'I want to meet this young lady. She has put me on the hold twice, and hung up on me once, and I want to know who she is.' "

Worthy said she was "so embarrassed," but then the civil rights icon gave her a hug.

By the day of the march, she was so tired, she dozed off and accidentally slept through the historic march and the "I Have a Dream" speech.

Everything worked out for her in the end: Worthy had a successful legal career and now teaches law at Howard University.

Another hitchhiked all the way from Alabama only to have MLK check in on him

Robert Avery and two of his friends hitchhiked nearly 700 miles from Gadsden, Alabama, to Washington to participate in the march.

Avery, who was 15 years old at the time, was no stranger to the dark side of the civil rights movement. A few months earlier, he was struck by a cattle prod wielded by Alabama police during anti-segregation demonstrations in Gadsden.

The three youths arrived in the nation's capital a week before the march after three days of hitchhiking, and they were put to work making signs for the event.

At one point, King walked in and asked for them. He had been in Gadsden the night before, and their parents had asked the civil rights leader to check on them.

King sat down with the three and talked to them for about 20 minutes, asking them about their dreams, Avery later recalled.

'I Have a Dream' beat JFK's 'Ask not what you can do' speech

There's no doubt that King's speech was the most memorable part of the March on Washington. It's still taught in school, and memorized by children, half a century later.

But how does it compare against other pivotal speeches by 20th century leaders, such as John F. Kennedy or Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Well, a panel of more than 130 scholars got together in 1999 to rate the best speeches of the 20th century and King's speech ranked No. 1.

 




Edited by PurpleHaze - Aug 28 2013 at 5:40pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 5:41pm
that pix of Harry and Sidney *love it*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote OoDles O Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 5:51pm
Thanks.Smile

I love this part:

Quote King was the last speaker to address the crowd in Washington that day. As he spoke, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out to King, "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin."

Then he paused and said, "I still have a dream."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:05pm
yes!
Ms. Mahalia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:16pm
hmph @ the Worthy part--she wouldn't have been so nice if you fell asleep in her classLOL but then again she said we shouldn't be sleeping more than 4 hours a nightSleepy

i went today and it was truly uplifting.
MLK's daughter is a great orator and i liked when she pointed out that the 63 march had no women speakers--lightly reminding us of sexism

it was truly touching when MLK's granddaughter rang the bell.

i cried several times. it was really a reminder that we truly have come so very very far. no the work is not done but it's disingenuous to speak as if things are still the same

... and most speakers said the dream was not fully realized--MLK3 said it, MLKs daughter said it, Carter said it, Obama said it--i mean isn't that obvious?


Edited by EPITOME - Aug 28 2013 at 6:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:21pm
I don't think marching is a waste of time but I do have a problem with the amount of symbol worship this country does when it comes to civil rights... especially when statistics show we haven't "progressed" that far




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:25pm
not watching the video but nobody who spoke said we've reached the mountaintop--quite the opposite.

MLkJr.'s sister spoke too--never heard her speak
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:28pm
I agree. All day we kept saying 'there's work to be done.'  and we haven't stopped. We're going to do something tomorrow .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:29pm
You probably need to watch the video because that wasn't the point. at all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 28 2013 at 6:32pm
eh--probably not gonna-...my point still stands in reply to your written statement about the stats--im telling you nobody obfuscated them at the march

Edited by EPITOME - Aug 28 2013 at 6:38pm
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