Today marks the 50th anniversary March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. 1963, the year of the March, was also the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, making it 150 years old in 2013, With today’s anniversary, media outlets, libraries, and archives everywhere are providing artifacts from the day, including oral histories and films from the day:
- Text of the Speech from the National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
- Restored film from the 1963 documentary, The March, created on request of the United States Information Agency to cover the events of August 28, 1963: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=claihYpVYjg&feature=share&list=UUnAsiniI4DF7vAAe7omWWFQ
- Oral Histories of March participants via the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/23/us/march-on-washington-anniversary-memories.html
- Videotaped Memories and Interviews of March participants from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/march-on-washington/short-story-vignettes/gallery/
The goals of the March organizers included both the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation and legislation that would prohibit discrimination in public and private employment. Today as we reflect on this important anniversary, we may debate the extent of the progress America has made in the name of civil rights, but many of these goals have been realized. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L.88-352, 78 Stat. 241), signed by President Johnson, outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national, and religious minorities and women. The law ended segregation in schools, workplaces, and public accommodations. The March also provided momentum for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Pub. L.89–110, 79 Stat. 437) which prohibits states and local governments from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Today’s anniversary reminds us of the value of our civil liberties, and the great efforts of those who struggled to achieve meaningful liberty for all Americans.