50 Years Since The March On Washington

It’s been a half century since the March on Washington.  We take stock of what we have—and have not—overcome.

Crowds are shown in front of the Washington Monument during the March on Washington for civil rights, August 28, 1963. (AP)

Crowds are shown in front of the Washington Monument during the March on Washington for civil rights, August 28, 1963. (AP)

Fifty years ago today on the National Mall in Washington DC, Americans made a powerful break with this country’s long and bitter racial history.  A quarter million people stretched out before the Lincoln Memorial and, by day’s end, heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech – a speech and vision so powerful that it helped drive decades of change.

Fifty years later, where have we come on race and race relations in this country?

This hour, On Point:  half a century after the March on Washington, we look again at America and race.

– Tom Ashbrook


Brandon Terry, fellow in economics, history and politics at Harvard University.

Reniqua Allen, journalist and a fellow at the New America Foundation. (@rnz1)

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, professor of sociology at Duke University. Author of “Racism Without Racists.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post: How the March on Washington shaped the Mall — “On Wednesday, when Barack Obama joins former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and members of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the city’s most iconic moments: a stirring speech, a monumental movement, a march that has since become known simply as the March on Washington, as participants asked the government to do better by African American citizens. It eclipses all other marches with its cast of thousands of activists and supporters.”

ABC News: On Race, Obama Tops Mountain But Blacks See More Peaks — “When Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his dream from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the president of the United States was not there to bear witness. John F. Kennedy was skeptical of the March on Washington, choosing to watch the event on TV from inside the White House several blocks away. He later clashed with King over the urgency for legislation to match the march’s message of ‘jobs and freedom.'”

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