The March On Washington

"I Have a Dream" - the speech that changed society forever

By: Jillian Lambert

Background Information

  • In 1963, racial discrimination still remained a problem
  • There was unequal treatment based on race and blacks wanted a federal law that erased ALL public discrimination
  • Many people wanted to persuade Congress to pass President John F. Kennedy's civil rights bill
  • At this event, one black civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., gave a famous speech named "I Have a Dream" that symbolized the Civil Rights Movement and is considered one of the greatest speeches in history

The March on Washington

  • On August 28, 1963, about 250,000 Americans, whites and blacks from all over the nation hopped off trains and buses after arriving at the nation's capital
  • The march was called "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"
  • A number of civil rights leaders organized the march
  • Wanted to bring attention to racial discrimination and wanted to eliminate it
  • Blacks and whites marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial
  • The event ended with a program of speakers presenting their own speeches including MLK's famous "I Have A Dream" speech

"I Have a Dream"

  • Famous speech given by Martin Luther King Jr.
  • MLK, a Baptist minister, drew most of his speech from the bible, The Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg Address, and the Declaration of Independence
  • It discussed his vision on the United States, a country that was not divided based on race
  • Explained the moral basis of the civil rights movement
  • First Half: describes racial injustice that King witnessed, noted the significance of gathering near the Lincoln Memorial
  • Second Half: explained his dreams for the future regarding equality and racial harmony
  • Emphasized the phrase "I have a dream" many times in his speech
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Check out MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech

Effects of the Protest

  • Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem
  • President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (1963)
  • Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson becomes President and persuades Congress to pass civil rights bill
  • The Civil Rights Movement of 1964 is passed
  • The protest caused some violence
  • New federal laws were made

How did the participants demonstrate their belief system through their protests?

Racial discrimination was a horrid problem. You couldn't use the same bathroom, go to the same school, and even drink out of the same water fountain that a colored person had used. It came to the point where it was so bad people wanted to make a change. Blacks and even whites, despite their disagreements became united as one and fought for what they believed in. People who were in favor of racial equality believed that blacks are human beings and shouldn't be treated differently. Millions of protesters from all over marched in Washington D.C. with posters and chants to eliminate all public discrimination. They showed that together, both races wanted racial equality.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said :

"And . . . when we allow freedom to ring, . . . we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’"

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