Below on 1963 and 2013 articles on the march from the pages of The Militant newspaper.
1963 march registered advance in proletarian battle for Black rights
Below are excerpts from the Militant's coverage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including from the speech prepared by John Lewis, then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, that was censured by march organizers in part because of his criticisms of President John Kennedy and the Democratic Party.
The 1963 march registered the continuing expansion of a powerful proletarian movement to overthrow Jim Crow segregation. It also brought to the fore two opposing class trajectories. On one hand were those who censored Lewis' speech and looked to the Kennedy administration and Democratic Party. On the other were proletarian forces pressing for independent working-class political action, including Malcolm X, the Socialist Workers Party and those who chose the occasion of the march to launch the Freedom Now Party.
Turnout Shows Negroes Ready for Action
BY GEORGE LAVAN
WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 29 — The massiveness — a quarter of a million people is the best estimate — was the outstanding feature of yesterday's March for Jobs and Freedom. This was also the most important thing about the march. For both friend and foe were carefully watching to see in what numbers Negroes would come out. To the politicians, the top union brass, the liberals, the fence-sitters and to the white supremacists — indeed to all social and political realists, the march's size would be a gauge of whether the Freedom Now fight was still in its upsurge or beginning to subside.
The Negro people were watching it very closely themselves and were exhilarated by the record-breaking turnout. It was also a source of great encouragement to those whites who are dependable allies of the Negroes, and who constituted about ten per cent of the marchers.
The march dramatized the readiness of the Negro masses to struggle, to go all the way in the fight. It also pointed up what the Negro people could do if they had leaders of the same mettle.
From the speech John Lewis was prevented from delivering
We are now involved in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say "My party is the party of principles"? The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? …
The revolution is a serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the street and put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, Listen Mr. Congressmen, Listen fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a "cooling-off" period.
All of us must get in the revolution. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and every hamlet of this nation, until true Freedom comes, until the revolution is complete. In the Delta of Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in Alabama, Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation. The black masses are on the march!
We won't stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond won't stop this revolution. The time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own "scorched earth" policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground — non-violently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy. We will make the action of the past few months look petty. And I say to you, WAKE UP AMERICA!
Support for Obama was focusof event marking 1963 march
BY SETH GALINSKY
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands turned out here Aug. 24 on the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In 1963 more than 200,000 marched as the fight against Jim Crow segregation and racism was advancing in battles across the South and spreading into the North.
This year's event was organized by National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, and endorsed by scores of Black and civil rights groups and trade unions.
The March for Jobs and Freedom anniversary was organized above all as a celebration of the Barack Obama presidency. In midst of the highest unemployment facing workers in decades — hitting disproportionately at workers who are Black — his administration has done nothing to put any of the millions of jobless to work. And attorney General Eric Holder, who spoke at the rally, has led the government's attacks on political rights.
The event included many workers looking to discuss what is happening today — from the economic crisis and the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court to the anger many feel at the fact that George Zimmerman got off scot-free for the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin.
Discussions on these questions swirled on the hundreds of buses to the rally and where workers gathered on lawn chairs and blankets that dotted the area around the National Mall.
Overwhelmingly Black in composition, most of those attending were workers, including substantial union contingents. But there was also many lawyers, professors and other professional and middle-class people, a section of the Black community that has expanded substantially in the decades since the 1963 march.
In addition to Sharpton, King, and Holder, speakers included Congressman John Lewis, one of the 1963 speakers; NAACP President Ben Jealous; Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton; and several union officials.
Rally participants were looking to discuss what can be done to fight to change the deteriorating economic conditions workers face today, which for many is worse than in 1963.
"I came because we need to stay strong and fight for our rights," said Eric Timmons, 31, a member of the United Auto Workers union in Detroit. Timmons said that under the two-tier wages imposed where he works, he gets about half the pay of coworkers with more seniority on the first tier.
Rachel Hampton, 36, a nursing assistant, came from Rutherford County, N.C., with the local chapter of the NAACP. Hampton said she is working three different jobs, all at minimum wage, to make ends meet. Chapter secretary treasurer Darwin Little joined in the discussion. "We need to pull together, Black and white, to see more jobs created with better wages," he said.
Carolyn Taylor-Chester, 49, came to the action with Service Employees International Union Local 1199 from Baltimore. "So many of us are working in health care and we can't even afford it ourselves," she said.
"Trayvon is on my mind," Connie Henderson, 60, a retired autoworker from Detroit, told the Militant. "I feel like it was a lynching."
Theresa Green, a member of Transport Workers Local 100, said the rally "was more like a gathering. There are so many important issues we face. We really needed a protest."
"The tables were a real magnet for hundreds of workers looking for literature on what we face today," said Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York, who helped staff one of the two big literature displays for the Militant and Pathfinder books at the Aug. 24 event. Overall, 101 subscriptions and 165 books on revolutionary working-class politics were sold.