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Drama Vs. Reality

The crowd has gone home. The rubbish has been swept up. The dust has settled once again around the reflection pool between Washington monument and Lincoln memorial. It was a great show and applause is now in order.

The reviewers, however, are not making any predictions about the consequences. From every seat it appears the historic civil rights march upon the nation's capital was momentous inspiration, yet in reality only a gesture.

Massive and orderly as it was, there is small chance that the march by some 200,000 Negroes and their sympathizers will advance the cause of opportunity to the point at which it was directed. The fault is not difficult to detect.

Basically the parade was to call attention to the plight of the Negro race in the United States. Theoretically the march offered a momentous opportunity to capture the interest of everyone in the nation's capital from the U. S. President down through Congress to office worker and school pupil. There can be no question that by sheer numbers alone the demonstration was impressive. An estimated 200,000 took part.

In practice, however, the scheme has raised questions about its effectiveness. The main fault was that, like circus trucks and fire wagons, it attracted a lot of persons who went along just for the ride. They are the types who enjoy making a big noise for the sake of being noisy. The next day they cannot tell you what the shouting was about.

In practice, too, the march had an oblique mission and very little actual chance of speeding racial changes. Even friendly members of the two houses said they doubted their fellows would be influenced to adopt different viewpoints. The fact was that Congress was more engrossed in preventing a rail strike Wednesday than it was in the mammoth parade.

Insofar as the general public, outside the South, was concerned the Negro's plight no longer needs a demonstration parade to attain recognition. Like every other minority group, the Negroes' difficulties are realized and the tide has turned. But millions of Americans will still insist that individual ability, and not identification with a group, should determine a man's place in society.

Success is never easy. Thousands in the freedom march believed their action would turn the world upside down: they will be disappointed. Many other thousands hoped it would show the backing non-Negroes enjoy throughout the nation; their point was recognized but doubtless emphasized on Wednesday.

Now this demonstration is over, all its participants should return home planning less dramatic but more effective ways of improving the Negro's lot and, indeed, the lives of all who have not been accorded equality of rights in modern society.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This Greenfield Recorder editorial appeared two days after the historic 1963 civil rights "March on Washington." Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, for which the event is most remembered, is not even mentioned. The editorial casts doubt on whether the march will soon achieve one of its key goals, convincing congress to pass civil rights legislation. Congress, for example, "was more interested in preventing a rail strike Wednesday than it was in the mammoth parade." The editors' gloomy view of political reality was not off base: it took the assassination of President Kennedy in October to create the momentum for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


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

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Aug 30, 1963
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   6.0"
height   7.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.010

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See Also...

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

"Enemies of the Dream" cartoon printed in Greenfield Recorder newspaper

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

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