by Mike Hall
Aug. 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To celebrate that half-century anniversary, civil rights, labor, faith and other groups will hold a weeklong series of events Aug. 21-28 in the nation’s capital under the banner of “Freedom, Jobs, Peace and Social Justice.”
Many of the events will take place on the National Mall, including the Aug. 24 “Realize the Dream” march and rally, the Aug. 25 Global Freedom Festival and the Aug. 28 “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration and call to action ceremony.
Click here for a day-by-day schedule.
The march, most widely known for King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, propelled the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. It was a combined effort by the civil rights and labor movements. One of the key figures was A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and an AFL-CIO vice president.
As one of the “Big Six” legacy organizations which spearheaded the original march in 1963, the A. Philip Randolph Institute will join major organizations to bring together diverse communities representing all who are interested in civil, human and working rights of all Americans across this nation.
The “Big Six” were King; Randolph; John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, now a U.S. House member; James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality; Roy Wilkins of the NAACP; and Whitney Young of the Urban League.
The UAW; the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); and the Transport Workers (TWU) were instrumental in supporting the march.
While there has been immense progress since the 1963 march, 50 years later voting rights are being challenged, immigrants are being denied their basic human rights, and workers and their unions are under attack. Remember the core message from the March on Washington was that jobs and freedom go together.
In February, the AFL-CIO Executive Council said in a statement:
We pledge to use the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to recommit ourselves to extending and deepening freedom, equality and democracy for all in this country, and building a strong social and economic justice movement.