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Leaders Of March Still Have Not Attained Goal

WASHINGTON (AP)- The historic civil rights march on Washington- massive and orderly and moving- has dramatized the wants of Negroes in America, but leaders still faced the task today of trying to turn drama into action.

Speaker after speaker told the 200,000 Negro and white sympathizers massed in front of the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday that their demonstration was no more than a beginning.

"Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content," said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual."

The estimate of the size of the audience came from Police Chief Robert V. Murray, he described it as "the largest crowd of participants in any Washington event" in his memory, and possibly the greatest number taking active part in an event in the capital's history.

Demonstrators and their leaders made it clear that one sign of progress in their view, would be congressional approval of President Kennedy's civil rights bill. But there was no evidence that the demonstration would move the Congress into any faster consideration of the bill.

Kennedy, like the civil rights leaders, also talked in terms of a beginning. He met with King and the other civil rights leaders after the demonstration and said, "We have a long way yet to travel."

But the President also said "the cause of 20 million Negroes has been advanced by the program so appropriately before the nation's shrine to the Great Emancipator."

Kennedy, in his statement, spoke of the demonstration's "quiet dignity," and this was the element of the day that probably most impressed the city of Washington.

Police had three minor arrests- none of a demonstrator. Red Cross workers reported what they expected for a crowd so large: a share of headaches, faintings, broken bones and insect bites. Demonstrators, tired and quiet, headed home in their special buses and trains.

By 9 p.m. Washington police reported the city normal, and relieved almost all special police details from duty.

At the height of the ceremonies, the crowds massed far east along the lengthy pool that reflects the Washington Monument and far north almost to the State Department and far south near the parkways by the Potomac River.

After the demonstration, A. Philip Randolph, 74, Negro director of the march and president of the AFL-CIO Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters said: "The march has already achieved its objective. It has awakened and aroused the conscience of the nation."

There was some conflict not visible to the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial.

A demonstration leader, John Lewis, told a newsman later that he was forced to rewrite his speech because the Most Rev. Patrick A. O' Boyle, Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, had objected to it.

Lewis, 23, A Negro, is chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the youngest and most militant of the civil rights organizations.

Lewis said Archbishop O' Boyle, who delivered the invocation, had told march leaders he would not appear on the same platform with Lewis if his prepared speech was delivered as written. Lewis said the prelate considered the speech revolutionary.

Lewis said a meeting was called of the civil rights leaders, and he was forced to give in. When he gave his speech, he left out such comments as:

"We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence."

But the crowds did not know this, and they cheered and applauded the words of Lewis. But they reserved their greatest applause for King, the chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

One supporter shouted out "the next president of the United States" as King began to speak.

The Negro leader, 34, drew loud cheers when he pointed to the 20,000 or so white sympathizers in the crowd and said, "Many of our white brothers have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom."

One of the aims of the demonstrators was to convince Congress to pass President Kennedy's civil rights bill soon. When several sympathetic congressmen were introduced, demonstrators chanted at them: "Pass the bill. Pass the bill. Pass the bill."

But there was no evidence that Congress would respond quickly to this demand. Although some legislators like Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, D-Minn., said the demonstration would help pass the bill, others said it would not affect passage one way or another.

And the House Judiciary Committee, with so many members taking off for their Labor Day weekend, decided to postpone consideration of the bill until Sept. 9.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This article in the Greenfield Recorder appeared one day after the historic 1963 "March on Washington." Two hundred thousand people marched in support of federal civil rights legislation and for a national employment program. Despite widespread predictions of violence the march was peaceful. President Kennedy referred to the "quiet dignity" of the protest, a clear contrast to violence directed at the civil rights movement in the south. Interestingly, this article makes no reference to the "I Have a Dream" section of King's speech that would later become the best-remembered aspect of the event. This Associated Press release is also quite negative about the impact of the event on Civil Rights legislation stalled in Congress.


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"Leaders of March Still Have Not Attained Goal" article from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Aug 29, 1963
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   1.25"
height   10.0"
width   3.75"
height   7.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.009

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See Also...

"Break-Through Accomplished" editorial from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"Marchers to Converge on Lincoln Memorial" and "Washington Will be Symbol of U.S. Power Marchers" article in GRG newspaper

"Drama Vs. Reality" editorial from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

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