Daily Meme: The March at 50

  • August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, that epochal moment in the civil-rights movement. President Obama plans to give a speech next Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial, along with former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
  • If you need to brush up on your history of the march and the movement, Smithsonian Magazinehas an excellent and expansive oral history on the subject (as well as some never-before seen photographs).
  • ... although a peek at contemporary sources wouldn't be amiss, so you can see how the movement looked while it unfolded in real-time—or what it was like before the march even happened. 
  • Georgia representative John Lewis recently sat down with the Washington Post to remember the day that proved a catalyst for his career: "President Kennedy was so proud at the end of the march. He was beaming like a proud father. He was almost giddy. He went around, he shook every single hand. He said: 'You did a good job. You did a good job,' and when he got to Dr. King, he said, 'And you had a dream.' The history of the whole struggle is embodied in that day."
  • Lawrence Cumberbatch was 16 when he marched on Washington, and he got to sit right behind Martin Luther King Jr. He says that no one was talking about the country-defining "I Have a Dream" speech that day, though. "It was just so mind-blowing to look at this sea of people. You'll never see this again."
  • Speaking of that iconic speech, did you know it's not in the public domain, and won't be until 2038? That's caused quite a few problems for those who wish to use the footage.
  • The anniversary marks not just a time to remember the march and the people who made it happen (especially those who didn't get to take the stage but were crucial to the day's success), but how far we've advanced—and how far we have yet to go—toward racial and economic equality.
  • “If people could be disabused of the notion we are in a post-racial society because America elected a black president, that would be helpful," says one woman who marched in 1963. "Yeah, we have a black president, however look at all of these things that are still unjust, all of these problems that still exist.”

 

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