An estimated quarter of a million people participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, a peaceful demonstration to advance civil rights and economic equality. This was one of the largest demonstrations ever witnessed in Washington, D.C., and it was the first to have extensive coverage by the electronic media. Successful in pressuring the administration of President John F. Kennedy to initiate a strong civil rights bill in Congress, the marchers gathered at the Lincoln Memorial one hundred years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The March on Washington influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and galvanized public opinion. Bayard Rustin (1910–1987), organizer of CORE’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation freedom ride, coordinated and administered the particulars of the march. During this peaceful demonstration, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, a speech that has become a classic and powerful document in American history and culture.
Crowds gather by the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., during the 1963 March on Washington.