The March Begins
The Educational Radio Network / ERN's coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sixth of fifteen hours of broadcast: 1:58:30 P.M. - 3 P.M. A. Philip Randolph introduces the program, "Pass the bill" chant, Daisy Bates, Marion Anderson sings, John Lewis, and message from Farmer read, and the Eva Jessye Choir performs.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., 1963, Imprisonment--United States, Race--Religious aspects--Christianity, Discrimination in employment--United States--History--20th century, Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century, Civil rights, Segregation, United States--Politics and government--1961-1963, Civil rights movement, African Americans--Politics and government--20th century, Farmer, James, 1920-
Asa Philip Randolph Speaks from the Lincoln Memorial
The singing of the National Anthem from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial opens the official program now for a two-hour program this afternoon. We have some late reports back here at our studios from around town. The Inspector Douglas of the Police Department has reported that north of K Street appears just as it would on a Sunday in Washington.
And Sergeant Liskey reports that the bus traffic in and around the Baltimore Parkway is about normal and bus movement within the City of Washington is normal. A District Commissioner has also ruled that District government employees should get off one and a half hours early this afternoon to beat the traffic from the Memorial Grounds. And he also suggests that federal employees get off too, but he thinks that’s up to the Civil Service Commission.
So far, twenty-one special trains have brought these people into Washington, DC and sixteen regularly scheduled trains have also dumped off what now is well over the earlier police estimate of 110,000 people. This live coverage of this March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is coming to you from Washington, DC on the Educational Radio Network.
WGBH Station ID:
Live coverage direct from the Nation’s Capital throughout the day on the March on Washington, WGBH FM broadcasts full coverage of this Negro Civil Rights Demonstration. Stay tuned to WGBH FM, 89.7 megacycles in Boston.
Good afternoon, this is George Geesey in Washington, DC as the Educational Radio Network continues its coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The Educational Radio Network has its remote crews scattered throughout the downtown Washington area, around the Washington Monument, Constitution Avenue, the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial where marchers from all over the country have marched on Washington to express their meanings in this civil rights demonstration.
So far police estimate 110,000 people, but judging by the crowd that surrounds the Reflecting Pool and reported by ERN reporters it now looks like it’s well over that, and might be the largest demonstration ever held in the Nation’s Capital. Congressmen and other dignitaries are assembled now at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And as we continue with the official program from those steps we welcome our western stations in WUSO in Ohio—or rather WOSU—and its listeners to the ERN coverage in the northeast. And now, again we go to the Lincoln Memorial for a live pickup of the program, which is going on there.
And our reporter there is Al Hulsen who’s been reporting so far on the size of the crowd and parts of the ceremonies that are taking place. Over 200,000 people are expected to arrive in Washington; most of them are here by this time. The ERN will be on the air until well into the evening to bring you this live coverage of what is happening so far. There’ve been relatively little accidents so far, police have not had to exercise their power except in a few minor cases and only twelve persons have been injured so far and most of them not seriously, they’ve been taken to the hospital but again released.
There have been two cases of appendicitis and these people are being hospitalized, both victims are from the New York City area. The World News Room of the Washington Post reports that the House debate began at 12:00 noon today on the railroad strike and it’s expected that they will have some sort of an announcement to make this afternoon. Their debate is expected to lead to a decision to extend the period of the strike to 180 days or more. We’ll have further reports on the possibilities of this strike a little later this afternoon.
Of course, President Kennedy and many members of Congress are advocating the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They say it’s become a sort of national ceremony in which every citizen has an interest whether or not he is a participant. ERN sites report that people are happy; it’s like a Sunday picnic. And now, let’s go live to the Lincoln Memorial.
The Reverend Patrick O’Boyle, the Archbishop of Washington, has just delivered the invocation. The formal program here is underway and now to the podium and A. Philip Randolph.
We’re gathered here for the longest demonstration in the history of this nation. Let the nation and the world know the meaning of our numbers. We are not a pressure group, we are not an organization or a group of organizations, we are not a mob. We are the advanced guard of a massive, moral revolution for jobs and freedom. This revolution reverberates throughout the land touching every city, every town, every village where black men are segregated, oppressed and exploited. But this civil rights revolution is not confined to the Negro, nor is it confined to civil rights for our white allies know that they cannot be free while we are not.
And we know that we have no future in a society in which 6 million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty. Nor is the goal of our civil rights revolution merely the passage of civil rights legislation. Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them. Yes, we want a Fair Employment Practice Act, but what good will it do if profit-geared automation destroys the jobs of millions of workers black and white?
We want integrated public schools, but that means we also want federal aid to education, all forms of education. We want a free, democratic society dedicated to the political, economic and social advancement of man along moral lines. Now we know that real freedom will require many changes in the nation’s political and social philosophies and institutions. For one thing we must destroy the notion that Mrs. Murphy’s property rights include the right to humiliate me because of the color of my skin.
The sanctity of private property takes second place to the sanctity of the human personality. It falls to the Negro to reassert this proper priority of values, because our ancestors were transformed from human personalities into private property. It falls to us to demand new forms of social planning, to create full employment, and to put automation at the service of human needs, not at the service of profits—for we are the worst victims of unemployment. Negroes are in the forefront of today’s movement for social and racial justice, because we know we cannot expect the realization of our aspirations through the same old anti-democratic social institutions and philosophies that have all along frustrated our aspirations.
And so we have taken our struggle into the streets as the labor movement took its struggle into the streets, as Jesus Christ led the multitude through the streets of Judaea. The plain and simple fact is that until we went into the streets the federal government was indifferent to our demands. It was not until the streets and jails of Birmingham were filled that Congress began to think about civil rights legislation. It was not until thousands demonstrated in the South that lunch counters and other public accommodations were integrated.
It was not until the Freedom Riders were brutalized in Alabama that the 1946 Supreme Court decision banning discrimination in interstate travel was enforced and it was not until construction sites were picketed in the North that Negro workers were hired. Those who deplore our militants, who exhort patience in the name of a false peace, are in fact supporting segregation and exploitation. They would have social peace at the expense of social and racial justice. They are more concerned with easing racial tension than enforcing racial democracy.
The months and years ahead will bring new evidence of masses in motion for freedom. The March on Washington is not the climax of our struggle, but a new beginning not only for the Negro but for all Americans who thirst for freedom and a better life. Look for the enemies of Medicare, of higher minimum wages, of Social Security, of federal aid to education and there you will find the enemy of the Negro, the coalition of Dixiecrats and reactionary Republicans that seek to dominate the Congress.
We must develop strength in order that we may be able to back and support the civil rights program of President Kennedy. In the struggle against these forces, all of us should be prepared to take to the streets. The spirit and techniques that built the labor movement, founded churches, and now guide the civil rights revolution must be a massive crusade, must be launched against the unholy coalition of Dixiecrats and of the racists that seek to strangle Congress. We here today are only the first wave.
When we leave, it will be to carry on the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in every growing numbers until total freedom is ours. We shall settle for nothing less, and may God grant that we may have the courage, the strength, and faith in this hour of trial by fire never to falter.
The opening remarks by 74-year-old A. Philip Randolph, Director and Founder of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In Washington, [inaudible] great gathering here, that we have 150 congressmen here, additional who have just come —and Senators. And we have some of the most outstanding members of the Senate and the House with us. I’d like to have you move in, so others can come down. Thank you so much, how are you doing? Just move down this way. You know we expect some pictures.
This program is expected to continue momentarily with an address by Dr. Eugene Clark Blake, the stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. Al, do you think everybody is being able to hear this as they stretch out along the Reflecting Pool?
George, I have no doubt that everyone here can hear it. There are speakers all around the Lincoln Memorial and several large speakers directed to the Washington Monument. I’m sure that everyone can hear it.
What’s happening, a general reception of all the congressional leaders?
Yes, unfortunately I can’t see the stage itself. There’s so many newspapermen blocking my view that I actually don’t know what’s going on, but many people have stood—the dignitaries—and I believe they’re applauding the officials that are being introduced.
I might point that ERN is bringing you this live coverage from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the chant goes up from the audience gathered. [CROWD CHEERING] And of course, the marchers and their committee have gathered a lot of congressional support as you said, 150 congressmen have been accounted for on those steps of the Lincoln Memorial this afternoon. A lot of other dignitaries too, are there from the official government.
People are waving flags here and one of our reporters, Dave Edwards, has gone over to the stage. We hope to have a report on exactly what is occurring at this time.
Of course, Washington is swelled today with all sort of radio, television, motion pictures, still photographers, people from magazines and newspapers from all over the country and the world as a matter of fact—crammed here to report this to the world. And part of the ERN coverage is being fed to the CBC and through WRUL in New York to an overseas audience. Let’s see if we can call in Arnold Shaw, who is right down at the corner of the Reflecting Pool right in the middle of this throng...Arnold?
All of us are happy that our Congressmen and Senators are here [inaudible]...
We’ll go back to the stage.
...are here just on this great historic occasion. Now there is the bill before the Congress on the railroad situation and they will not be able to remain with us longer than about 15 minutes, but we are happy that they are here.
Of course, these people are concerned about this railroad strike, because it might mean they can’t get home from Washington.
Crowd chants, Pass the bill, pass the bill!
You may be able to hear in the background, the crowd is beginning to chant, “Pass the bill, pass the bill.” And of course, this means pass the Civil Rights legislation that is now before Congress. The crowd is asking the congressmen that are here to use their efforts to, as they say, pass the bill. Many people are standing up that were seated and are clapping and are shouting. And those people that have been standing all morning here since about 11:30 look rather apathetic. I’m sure that they are extremely tired.
Our fellow Americans, in great tribute to the role the Negro woman has played in the cause of freedom, equality and human dignity I now call on Ms. Daisy Bates, that great champion of Negro rights and freedom to give awards to...
Of course, she’s one of the five women who led the special part of the march, which went down Independence Avenue. She’ll be called on to make a speech to this large group.
...Ms. Diane Nash Bevel, Ms. Herbert Lee, Ms. Rosa Parks and Ms. Gloria Richardson—Mrs. Daisy Bates.
Mr. Randolph, friends, the women of this country [inaudible] our pledge to you, to Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins and all of you fighting for civil liberties—that we will join hands with you as women of this country. Rosa Gregg, Vice President; Dorothy Height, the National Council of Negro Women; and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the Methodist Church Women, all the women pledge that we will join hands with you. We will kneel-in; we will sit-in until we can eat in any corner in the United States. We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit-on and we will kneel-in and we will lie-in if necessary until every Negro in America can vote. This we pledge to the women of America.
May I request the women whom we are honoring to stand? Mrs. Diane Nash Bevel of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Ms. Herbert Lee, the wife whose husband was killed in Mississippi two years ago, because he tried to register and vote: Mrs. Medgar Evers widow of the NAACP...
Mr. Randolph isn’t able to continue as the crowd again stands to honor Mrs. Medgar Evers, wife of the slain NAACP leader.
I’m sorry to report to you that Sister Evers could not attend our demonstration, because of unusual circumstances. Who else? Will the...Ms. Rosa Parks—will they all stand—and Mrs. Gloria Richardson.
ERN reporter, Mike Rice, from Police Headquarters reports that a helicopter has flown over Washington and a Captain Wilson who was in it says Washington looks like it’s very calm, almost all the traffic is down at the Lincoln Memorial. So far eleven to twelve hundred buses have arrived with people. Of course 2,000 were expected, but they account now roughly between 1,100 and 1,200 buses. Twenty-one trains came with—special trains came with people from all over the United States and some of them traveled on an additional twelve regularly scheduled trains.
Again, the crowd is chanting, “Pass the bill, pass the bill.” As we’ve said many times before this crowd stretches all the way back from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Memorial. More and more people are now getting into the trees around the Lincoln Memorial. And one young fellow is waving a sign saying, “We demand an end to bias now.”
Fellow Americans, permit me now to present to you [inaudible]...
Eugene Carson Blake of the National Council of Churches Addresses the Crowd
This is Arnold Shaw at the Reflecting Pool at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and I have a report first from myself, I’ve just been through one of the most harrowing experiences of a lifetime. Our news headquarters, which I was located at this morning, is to the northwest of the Lincoln Memorial. And I was instructed to move to the southwest section to our remote truck, which I’m talking from now. It’s a walk which probably would take, on a regular day in Washington, DC five minutes.
It’s a walk which took today, approximately a half hour. The crowd is an interesting one, most cooperative. Indeed, on the way to this spot five people were ill, in a fainting condition. When this was announced and it was stated that room had to be made, room was made and immediately after the people had passed there was no longer any room. Another interesting sight was the fact that a woman who was most comfortably located on a canvas chair, and on top of her head was another canvas chair and in her hand was a thermos of water—probably a very envied person at this demonstration.
...together with those of the Roman Catholic Church and all the synagogues in America then the battle for full civil rights and dignity would be already won.
Another speech from the stage at the Lincoln Memorial.
I do however, in fact, represent officials in the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches. And I am honored to be here in the highest tradition of that Council and of the churches which constitute it thus to represent one of the sponsoring bodies of this March for Jobs and Freedom. For many years now the National Council of Churches and most of its constituent communions have said all the right things about civil rights. Our official pronouncements for years have called for a non-segregated church in a non-segregated society, but as of August 28th, 1963 we have achieved neither a non-segregated church, nor a non-segregated society.
And it is partially because the churches of America have failed to put their own houses in order that 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, 175 years after the adoption of the Constitution, 173 years after the the adoption of the Bill of Rights the United States of America still faces a racial crisis. We do not therefore come to this Lincoln Memorial in any arrogant spirit of moral or spiritual superiority to set the Congress or the nation straight, or to judge or to denounce the American people in whole or in part.
Rather we come late—late we come in the reconciling and repentant spirit in which Abraham Lincoln of Illinois once replied to a delegation of morally arrogant churchmen who came to see him. He said, “Never say God is on our side. Rather pray that we may be found on God’s side.” We come in the fear of God that moved Thomas Jefferson of Virginia whose memorial stands across the lagoon, once to say, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” Yes, we come to march behind and with these amazingly able leaders of the Negro-Americans, who to the shame of almost every white American have alone and without us mirrored the suffering of the cross of Jesus Christ.
They have offered their bodies to arrest and violence, to the hurt and the indignity of fire-hoses and dogs, of derision and of poverty and some, death for this just cause. We come, and late we come, but we come to present ourselves this day our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. And a kind of tangible and visible sacrament, which alone in times like these can manifest to a troubled world the grace that is available at communion table or high altar. We come in prayer that we in our time may be more worthy to bear the name our tongues so fluently profess.
We come in faith that the God who made us and gave his son for us and for our salvation will overrule the fears and hatreds that so far have prevented the establishment of full racial justice in our beloved country. We come in hope that those who have marched today are but a token of a new and massive high determination of all men of religion and of patriotism to win in this nation under God liberty and justice for all. And we come, late we come, we come in that love revealed in Jesus Christ, which reconciles into true community all men of every color, race and nation who respond in faith and obedience to him [inaudible]...
Remarks by Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, stated Clerk and the Director of the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America.
We will now be favored by the great singer, Ms. Marian Anderson, with a solo. Ms. Marian Anderson.
We might mention that Ms. Marian Anderson was expected to open the ceremony by singing the National Anthem, but had not arrived at that time at 2:00 o’clock. Now, here is Ms. Marian Anderson. Again, the dignitaries who were seated are standing and applauding the famous singer.
Al, the official crowd estimate by Police Headquarters is between 175 to 200,000. They’ll make a very accurate estimate in about an hour from now, but right now it’s between 175 and 200,000 persons and I guess from your vantage point you agree with it?
We would like to do for you, a Negro spiritual, which has been the favorite of many audiences through the United States. At the piano is Mr. Fax. We would like to do for you, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Come on!
[Singing] He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the big round world in his hands, he’s got the wide world in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands, he’s got the moon and the stars in his hands, he’s got the wind and the rain in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the little bitsy baby in his hands, he’s got the little bitsy baby in his hands, he’s got the little bitsy baby in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got you and me brother in his hands, he’s got you and me sister in his hands, he’s got you and me brother in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands. Oh he’s got everybody in his hands, he’s got everybody in his hands, he’s got everybody here right in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands.
The military policemen are certainly having a difficult time holding the crowd behind the fence in front of the Lincoln Memorial. We return now to Philip Randolph.
John Lewis of S.N.C.C. Makes His Speech from the Lincoln Memorial
I have the pleasure to present to you [inaudible] John Lewis, National Chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Brother John Lewis.
We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here— for they are receiving starvation wages or no wages at all. While we stand here there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the field working for less than $3.00 a day, twelve hours a day. While we stand here there are students in jail on trumped up charges. Our brother James Palmer, along with many others, is also in jail.
We come here today with a great sense of misgiving. It is true that we support the Administration’s Civil Rights Bill, we support with great reservation however. Unless Title Three is put in this bill, there’s nothing to protect the young children and old women who must face police dogs and fire hoses in the South while they engage in peaceful demonstration. In its present form this bill will not protect the citizens of Danville, Virginia, who must live in constant fear of a police state. It will not protect the hundreds and thousands of people who have been arrested upon trumped charges. What about the three young men...
What about the three young men in Americus, Georgia, who face the death penalty for engaging in peaceful protest? As it stands now the voting section of this bill will not help thousands of black people who want to vote. It will not help the citizens of Mississippi, of Alabama, and Georgia who are qualified to vote, but lack a sixth grade education. “One man, one vote” is the African cry. It is ours, too—it must be ours! We must have legislation that will protect the Mississippi sharecropper who is put off of his farm, because he dared to register to vote.
We need a bill that will provide for the homeless and starving people of this nation. We need a bill that will ensure the equality of a maid who earns $5.00 a week in the home of a family whose whose total income is $100,000 a year? We must have a good FEPC Bill. My friends, let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution where by and large American politics is dominated by politicians who build their career on who build their career on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation.
There are exceptions of course, we salute those, but what political leader can stand up and say, “My party is a party of principles”? For the party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets of Birmingham?
Where is the political party that will protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia? Do you know that in Albany, Georgia nine of our leaders have been indicted, not by the Dixiecrats but by the federal government for a peaceful protest? But what did the federal government do when Albany’s Deputy Sheriff beat attorney C.B. King and left him half dead?
What did the federal government do when local police officials kicked and assaulted the pregnant wife of Slater King, and she lost her baby? Those who have said be patient and wait, we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now. We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen, we are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again and then you holler, “Be patient.” How long can we be patient?
We want our freedom and we want it now! We do not want to go to jail, but we will go to jail if this is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood and true peace. I appeal to all of you to get in this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. 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 of 1776 is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. For in the Delta of Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in the...of Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation—the black masses are on the march for Jobs and Freedom!
They’re talking about slow down and stop, we will not stop. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond will not stop this revolution...If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham.
But we will march with the spirit of love, and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today. By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers we shall shatter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in the image of [inaudible] democracy. We must say, “Wake up America, Wake up,” for we cannot stop and we will not and cannot be patient.
One of the ten leaders speaking here at the Lincoln Memorial today, John Lewis, Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee Chairman. It’s interesting to note that his speech has changed somewhat from the prepared text given to the press earlier today. He had a very strong statement that has been eliminated in the speech that was just delivered. In the prepared text he said, “In good conscience, we cannot support the Administration’s Civil Rights Bill for it’s too little and too late.”
My fellow Americans, I want to acknowledge the presence of some 300 young Negroes from Mississippi who have come to this great demonstration against race bias. They are in the audience out there. There they are, there they are!
Applause for the students who have arrived here from Mississippi.
A.F.L.-C.I.O. President Walter Reuther on the March
Fellow Americans, I now have the opportunity and pleasure to present to you a great American, Walter Reuther, President of the United Automobile Workers of America and Vice President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization—Walter Reuther.
Mr. Randolph, fellow Americans and friends, I am here today with you because with you I share the view that the struggle for civil rights and the struggle for equal opportunity is not the struggle of Negro-Americans but the struggle for every American to join in. For 100 years the Negro people have searched for first-class citizenship and I believe that they cannot and should not wait until some distant tomorrow. They should demand freedom now. Here and now. It is the responsibility of every American to share the impatience of the Negro-Americans. And we need to join together, to march together, and to work together until we have bridged the mortal gap between American democracy’s noble promises and its ugly practices in the field of civil rights.
American democracy has been too long on pious platitudes and too short on practical performances in this important area. And one of the problems is what I call is there is too much high-octane hypocrisy America. There is a lot of noble talk about brotherhood and then some Americans drop the brother and keep the hood. To me the civil rights question is a moral question, which transcends partisan politics. And this rally today should be the first step in a total effort to mobilize the moral conscience of America and to ask the people in Congress of both parties to rise above their partisan differences and enact civil rights legislation now!
Now the President, President Kennedy has offered a comprehensive but moderate bill. That bill is the first meaningful step, it needs to be strengthened, it needs FEPC and other stronger provisions. And the job question is crucial, because we will not solve education or housing or public accommodations as long as millions of Americans, Negroes, are treated as second-class economic citizens and denied jobs. And as one American I take the position if we can have full employment and full production for the negative ends of war then why can’t we have a job for every American in the pursuit of peace?
And so our slogan has got to be, “Fair employment, but fair employment within the framework of full employment, so that every American can have a job.” I am for civil rights as a matter of human decency, as a matter of common morality, but I am also for civil rights because I believe that freedom is an indivisible value; that no one can be free unto himself. And when Bull Connor with his police dogs and fire hoses destroys freedom in Birmingham he is destroying my freedom in Detroit.
And let us keep in mind since we are the strongest of the free nations of the world, since you cannot make your freedoms secure accepting as we make freedom universal so all may enjoy its blessings, let us understand that we cannot defend freedom in Berlin so long as we deny freedom in Birmingham. This rally is not the end, it’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of a great moral crusade to arouse America to the unfinished work of American democracy; that Congress has to act.
And after they act we have much work to do in the vineyards of American democracy. In every community men of good will must join together, men of all races and creed and color and political persuasion. And motivated by the spirit of human brotherhood we must search for answers in the light of reason through rational and responsible actions, because if we fail the vacuum of our failure will be filled by the apostles of hatred who will search in the dark of night. And reason will yield to riots and brotherhood will yield to bitterness and bloodshed and we will tear asunder the fabric of American democracy.
So let this be the beginning of that great crusade to mobilize the moral conscience of America, so that we can win freedom and justice and equality and first class citizen for every American, not just for certain Americans, not only in certain parts of America, but in every part of America from Boston to Birmingham, from New York to New Orleans and from Michigan to Mississippi. Thank you!
Tremendous applause here at the Lincoln Memorial for Walter Reuther, President of the United Automobile Workers—there are many signs evident here letting us know that there are many union members attending this march.
Dear friends, our friends that you now see here have walked 250 miles to come here!
The crowd seems to be getting more active here, waving hands more vigorously, more applause, more shouting and as we heard before the chant, “Pass it now, pass the Civil Rights Bill now.” Chairing this formal program here at the Lincoln Memorial is A. Philip Randolph, the 74-year-old Director of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as it’s officially called.
I am proud to report to you that the official count is that we have over 200,000 Negro and white workers.
There’s the report you heard earlier from George Geesey, over 200,000 participating in this march.
And they are still coming into Washington!
People are all looking now toward the Washington Monument.
Our next speaker [inaudible]...
And they see that the crowd does stretch all the way from here to there.
Floyd McKissic of C.O.R.E. Speaks
Everybody take your seats, our next speaker is Mr. Floyd McKissic, National Chairman of Congress of Racial Equality. He is speaking instead of our good friend and brother, James Farmer, who is now in prison in Plaquemine, Louisiana. We all give up our prayers on behalf of our brother Jim Farmer. We will now hear from Brother McKissic.
The message that I shall give to you today was written by Jim Farmer from a Plaquemine jail. And I shall quote his message now. “From a South Louisiana Parrish jail I salute the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Two hundred and thirty-two Freedom Fighters jailed with me in Plaquemine, Louisiana also send their greetings. I wanted to be with you with all my heart on this great day. My imprisoned brothers and sisters wanted to be there too. I cannot come out of jail while they are still in for their crime was the same as mine—demanding freedom now. And most of them will not come out of jail until the charges are dropped or their sentences served.
I cannot let the heroic Negro citizens of Plaquemine down by leaving them now while they are behind bars. I know that you will understand my absence, so we cannot be with you today in body but we are with you in spirit. By marching on Washington your tramping feet have spoken the message, the message of our struggle in Louisiana. You have given notice of the struggles of our people in Mississippi and Alabama too, and in California and in New York and Chicago and in Brooklyn.
You have come from all over the nation and in one mighty voice you have spoken to the nation. You have also spoken to the world. You have said to the world by your presence here as our successful, direct action in numberless citizens have said, that in the age of thermo-nuclear bombs violence is outmoded to the solution of the problems of men. It is a truth that needs to be shouted loudly and no one else anywhere in the world is saying it as well as the American Negroes through their non-violent direct action.
The tear gas and the electric cattle prods of Plaquemine, Louisiana like the fire hoses and dogs of Birmingham are giving to the world a tired and ugly message of terror and brutality and hate. Theirs is a message of pitiful hopelessness from little and unimaginative men to a world that fears for its life. It is not that they to whom the world is listening today, it is to American Negroes. Our direct action method is bringing down barriers all over the country in jobs, in housing, in schools, in public places. It is giving hope to the world to peoples who are weary of warfare and who see extinction hovering over the future like an ominous mushroom cloud.
If we can solve our problem and remove the heavy heel of oppression from our necks with our methods then man has no problems anywhere in the world, which cannot be solved without [inaudible]. So we are fighting not only for our rights and our freedom, we are fighting not only to make our nation safe for the Democracy it preaches, we are fighting also to give our whole world a fighting chance for survival. We are fighting to give millions of babies yet unborn, black, white, yellow and brown a chance to see day and to carry on the battle to remove the night of hate, hunger and disease from the world. You thus are at the center of the world’s stage; play well your roles in your struggle for freedom.
In the thousands of communities from which you have come throughout the land act with valor and dignity and act without fear. Some of us may die like William L. Moore or Medgar Evans, but our war is for life, not for death. And we will not stop our demand for our freedom now. We will not slow down. We will not stop our militant, peaceful demonstrations. We will not come off of the streets until we can work at a job befitting of our skills in any place in the land. We will not stop our marching feet until our kids have enough to eat and their minds can study a wide range without being cramped in Jim Crow schools.
Until we live wherever we choose and can eat and play with no closed doors blocking our way we will not stop the dogs that are biting us in the South and the rats stop biting in the North. We will not stop until the heavy weight of centuries of oppression is removed from our backs and like proud men everywhere when we can stand tall together again. That is Jim Farmer’s message. May I add that may this day be a day of beginning for us, but may we rededicate ourselves to the most effective weapon that we have and that we have achieved success by? That is the weapon of direct, non-violent action. Go back to your homes, do not be dis-led and carry on the fight to free all Americans Black and White.
The prepared address of James Farmer read by Floyd McKissic, National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. And now here from Reporter Dave Edwards, Mr. Edwards will have an exclusive interview with Senator Hubert Humphrey at the conclusion of this special program.
We will now listen to [inaudible] “Freedom Is A Thing Worth Thinking About,” so Louis Andrew Fryerson, baritone and Bill Dillard, trumpet.
I might point out Al, that from Police Headquarters we’ve had a report now from Mike Rice that about seventeen buses have returned to Union Station carrying about 900 people back to their trains, so that some of this crowd can get out of Washington before nightfall.
George, it hardly seems that way here. From our vantage point at the Lincoln Memorial it seems as though more people are coming. The crowd seems to be thickening up here at the edges of the Reflecting Pools. There seems to be more movement, more activity. Now, let’s go back to the stage.
Eva Jessye Choir singing, Freedom, freedom, freedom is a thing worth thinking about, this thing called freedom is a thing worth talking about. Freedom’s worth talking about, freedom is a thing worth singing about. Freedom’s worth talking about, spreading all over the world. Freedom is worth talking about, freedom is a thing worth singing about. Freedom is worth clapping about, clapping over the world. Louis Andrew Fryerson singing, Let us counsel you and me, the keynote is democracy. Spread the message far and near. The time is now, the place is worth here. Eva Jessye Choir singing, Spread it all over the world, because Freedom’s worth talking about. Freedom is a thing worth singing about, freedom’s worth talking about, tell it all over the world. Hasten neighbors, why delay? Take a stand for truth today. Join with hands across the sea, united in liberty. Freedom’s worth talking about, freedom’s worth singing about, freedom’s worth shouting about, tell it all over the the world. Tell the mountains, span the desert, bridge the ocean to every nation. Freedom’s worth singing about, freedom is a thing worth feeling about, freedom’s worth shouting about. Tell it all over the world!
The Evajessye Choir entertaining the group assembled at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And before another speaker comes up on to the platform it gives us an opportunity for these ERN stations bringing you this live coverage from Washington to identify themselves. This is the Educational Radio Network.
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