50 Years Later, the Untold History of the March on Washington & MLK’s Most Famous Speech
One week out from the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — and just days away from a major march this Saturday commemorating the event — we spend the hour looking at much of its forgotten history. More than a quarter-million people came to the nation’s capital on August 28th, 1963 to protest discrimination, joblessness and economic inequality faced by African Americans. Many now consider the march to be a key turning point in the civil rights movement. We explore the largely untold history behind the march and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, like his own political legacy, remains widely misunderstood. "I think today, the way the speech and the march are understood is wrapped in the flag, and seen as one more example of American genius, when in fact it was a mass, multiracial, dissident act," says Gary Younge, author of "The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream." "The powers that be really did not want this [march] to happen. The march was policed like a military operation.” We also speak to historian William P. Jones, author of "The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights." "It really had a very profound effect on shifting the national conversation, even within the civil rights movement itself, toward a major focus on the connections between racial equality and economic justice,” Jones says.
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