Remembering MLKJ: The March on Washington 1963
Remembering MLKJ: The March on Washington 1963 — Eventually, Randolph persuaded all the major civil rights leaders to back the march on Washington plan, and on July 17, 1963, President Kennedy endorsed the march during a press conference. On August 28, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King delivered his ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech and after the festivities were over, all the major leaders went to the White House for a meeting with the president to talk about how best to ensure the passage of his civil rights bill. Suggestions were made, and some were accepted by the president in the seventy-two- minute meeting. King had been in Washington before with his prayer pilgrimage in 1957, but this was even greater and much more was at stake. Unlike the 1957 march, this time King was not only a national figure but an international one.
Despite such lofty moments, there were numerous protests and endless acts of violence and resistance to
attend to while the new civil rights bill worked its way through Congress. Throughout the South, local bastions of segregation still fiercely defended that institution. Albany still had not relinquished its stiff prosecutions of the protesters, hoping that their diehard resistance would reverse the favorable course of events for the protesters. The worst example of this violence came on September 15 when a bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham killed four young girls attending Sunday school, and a resultant riot killed another black youth.
By October 15, King was called into Selma, Alabama, to help local activists against Sheriff Jim Clark. By the next month, President Kennedy was assassinated. To King and other civil rights leaders, the pressure placed on the White House by Birmingham and the March on Washington eventuated into nothing. Little did he know what Vice President Lyndon Johnson would do when he assumed the presidency. With Johnson in the White House, national civil rights legislation would advance further and faster than ever before.