The unfinished work of the March on Washington
Sixty years ago, some 250,000 Americans arrived by bus, by train and on foot to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Now, marchers and organizers reflect on the goals of that day — and the work that still needs to be done.
In 1963, the fight for civil rights reached a pivotal stage. Activist Medgar Evers was murdered, Alabama Gov. George Wallace called for “segregation forever,” and riots in Cambridge, Md., erupted into violence. A few years earlier, the murder of Emmett Till had shaken people across the country.
And on Aug. 28, thousands gathered on the National Mall to call for economic opportunity and something more mercurial — freedom. The march risked the civil rights movement’s viability at a crucial moment, when African Americans faced violent and deadly backlash from police and white supremacists for seeking voting protections and fair treatment in their own country.
The day became iconic — especially the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful speech. But organizers say there was so much more that went into that moment, from organizing buses through the segregated South to making sure microphones worked on the Mall. Washington Post reporter Clarence Williams and his colleagues gathered dozens of interviews with people who were there that day, reflecting on the minute details behind the historic moment, as well as the legacy of the march that became a model for how to demand change in United States.