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Celebrity Participation in the March on Washington

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Summary
The Educational Radio Network / ERN's coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Fifth of fifteen hours of broadcast: 1 P.M. - 1:58:30 P.M. Camilla Williams sings National Anthem to begin the program.
Topics
Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., 1963, Segregation, Civil rights, Motion picture actors and actresses--Political activity--United States, Civil rights movement, United States--Politics and government--1961-1963, African Americans--Politics and government--20th century, Lancaster, Burt, 1913-1994, Belafonte, Harry, 1927-, Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971, Shuttlesworth, Fred L., 1922-, Brando, Marlon
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Transcript

Marlon Brando on the March

START AUDIO
Geesey:
This is George Geesey again in Washington as the ERN continues its coverage of this March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Let’s check again at the Lincoln steps to find the flavor how the group is organizing and assembling around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We call in reporter Al Hulsen.
Hulsen:
You hear the applause in the background more and more. The dignitaries are coming. That applause was for Mahalia Jackson. At the moment, some informal entertainment is underway. We heard from Odetta, the folk singer. Then a rendition of “Oh Freedom.” We might just mention that the current edition of Newsweek and it’s dated September 2nd several days from now has a story about this March on Washington that’s written both in the future, present and past tense. And it includes one interesting paragraph.
It says, “For those who couldn’t come, there were sympathy marches on state houses at home and in U.S. embassies abroad. In Paris the much lionized James Baldwin in temporary retreat from the race struggle while he finishes a play, joined the walk from the American Church on the Quai d'Orsay to the Embassy. It’s interesting to know that Mr. Baldwin is here in person on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and Dave Edwards is attempting to corner him for an interview over the Educational Radio Network. Let’s briefly go to the stage to hear some of this informal entertainment.
Davis:
Camilla Williams.
Camilla Williams singing “Oh What a Beautiful City.”
Hulsen:
We’re going to cut away here for a moment and go to Dave Edwards. It isn’t Mr. Baldwin, but we understand that he’s trying to reach Marlon Brando. He’s now working...
Edwards:
This is David Edwards at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. With me is Marlon Brando, the world renowned movie actor. Mr. Brando, can you tell me why you’re here today?
Brando:
Yes, I can tell you why we’re here. I can speak for myself as a private citizen. All of us from Hollywood have come as a private citizen representing no group, no political party and no specific point of view. We’re here as Americans to give the full support that we can in every way to the legislation that is now pending before Congress because we believe it to be right.
Edwards:
Would you go beyond that and support the direct action projects undertaken by especially students, Negro, and white in the South today?
Brando:
I think that any action that is lawfully provided for by the Constitution is something that should be fully supported and should be participated in. Those are my own views.
Edwards:
What are your impressions of the demonstration thus far today?
Brando:
I think they have been impressive. I think that the number of people here. Of course, this is an historical unprecedented occasion. At no time in the history of America have this number of people assembled in Washington with a single cause such as civil rights. I can’t think of any. Can you?
Edwards:
No, I can’t.
Brando:
No, this is the only time that such a thing has happened in history. I think it’s momentous. It’s impressive and I think it tells the world that there are Americans that do care. It tells Negroes that there are whites that do care.
Edwards:
It’s been striking the number of Hollywood personalities who have expressed support for this demonstration if even some of them have been unable to attend. Does this indicate a new awareness on the part of many of these people of the importance of the civil rights question today, do you think?
Brando:
I think it indicates a new awareness on the part of all people. We are here because a woman by the name of Rosa Parks stood up in the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, walked down to the front, and sat down in a chair. And, when the bus driver said, “Nigger, you’ll have to get in the back of the bus,” she said, “I’m not moving.” And as a result of that, the Montgomery bus boycott began. Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rides and sit-ins began, and finally here you are talking to me and I’m here doing my best to try to advance this cause.
Edwards:
Some people suggest every so often that people like you could make an ever greater contribution if more of the products turned out by the movie makers in Hollywood concerned controversial social questions like the race question. Do you think this is a legitimate argument and do you think it’s a possibility?
Brando:
I don’t know that it is an argument. I certainly adhere and I’m in accord with all that you say in that respect. There are plans afoot to accelerate these issues and bring them before the public in every way possible. People like Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, Steve Allen, David Susskind. All of these people are interested in presenting this point of view fairly and using their good offices and programs for a revelation of little known facts about this issue to be brought before the court of American Society.
Edwards:
How about expressions of their own personal values as well?
Brando:
They’ve done that. Jack Paar has expressed himself to me about that. Johnny Carson has given support to this. Steve Allen certainly has a great interest in this. Well, I could go on and on with the number of people that have supported this all the way down the line.
Edwards:
Do you foresee any future activities on your part of one or another sort in support of this movement for civil rights?
Brando:
Yes, this program is going to really step out wide and handsome now. There was some discussion today on the bus for the first time about actors trying to get their films prevented from being shown in segregated theaters. And I think that that is a very clear answer to those detractors and the people who have taken our interest lightly and who feel that this is just a publicity cause. We don’t stand to gain any money by that. We stand to lose something. But I think that the negroes have lost for 150 years, and I think that we should share their sense of loss and their sense of gain.
Edwards:
Thank you very much, Marlon Brando.
Hulsen:
You can hear the informal entertainment continuing. That was Peter, Paul, and Mary who just finished that particular song. And we have with us now a member of the DC Chapter of the Red Cross to give us some information about what kind of work they’ve been doing today. Has it been a rough day for you?
Red Cross Rep:
Yes, it’s been, well not too rough. Nothing we can’t handle. We came prepared and so we can take care of any situation that arises. We have the able assistance of the United States Public Health people and the DC Health Department plus the Army Medical Corps. So we are well staffed and well equipped and we’re ready for anything that might arise.
Hulsen:
How many ill people have you found yourself?
Red Cross Rep:
Myself? Actually, I haven’t found anybody yet. I keep hearing reports of people who are at different places, but by the time we are able to get there through this crowd, the military has already taken care of them.
Hulsen:
Can you give us any indication of numbers?
Red Cross Rep:
I have no idea.
Hulsen:
Do you have the facilities that are needed?
Red Cross Rep:
Yes, we do.
Hulsen:
Now, let’s go back to the stage.
Peter, Paul and Mary singing “If I had a Hammer.” Singing “If I Had a Hammer” con’t.
Hulsen:
George, maybe at this time you’d like to go somewhere else in Washington.

Congressmen Respond to the March

Geesey:
Yes, thanks, Al. That gives the flavor of what’s happening there at the Lincoln steps as this multitude of people gathers for these ceremonies, which are about fifty minutes away if we are on the right time table. We’ve been hearing from Hollywood stars. We’ve had interviews from some of the ERN reporters with people who are there to march. They’ve given their personal feelings. But also, there’s been support for this March on Washington from Congressmen and other officials. Senator Paul Douglas, for instance, Democrat of Illinois was interviewed recently by the ERN in his office on Capitol Hill. And Senator Douglas was asked whether he could expect a Civil Rights Bill to be passed this session.
Douglas:
I’m not pessimistic. I’m not optimistic. I pride myself on being a realist. Now in order to get a bill both Republicans and Democrats have got to work together. That’s number one. In the House, our difficulty is in the Rules Committee of fifteen members; five Northern Democrats, Five Southern Democrats, and Five Republicans. It’s obvious that the Republicans go with the Southern Democrats.
In order to get a bill out, it’s necessary for the Northern Democrats and the Republicans to combine. Once you get a bill on the floor of the House I think it will pass once it gets by the Rules Committee. In the Senate, if we could ever bring a measure to a vote, we would get a majority.
But, it’s very difficult to break a filibuster in the Senate. The senators will engage in interminable discussion, and you can only limit debate by a two-thirds vote not a majority vote. And there is difficulty or going to be great difficulty in getting two-thirds because the South will stand almost as a unit in protection of the right of unlimited debate. There’ll be support, which they will get from the old border states of Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.
I guess some support from the Southwest, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Nevada has always been an ally of the South. Some of the other mountain states will help. And then the wheat senators tend to have an alliance with the South. The South helps them on wheat, they help the South with tobacco and cotton, and there is an alliance. So that I simply say, there are tremendous obstacles to overcome. Nevertheless, many of us will do our very best.
Geesey:
Senator Paul Douglas, Democrat of Illinois. He was also asked in the same interview about his reaction to today’s March for Jobs and Freedom.
Douglas:
It’s really a march in Washington rather than a march on Washington. As I understand it, the plans especially forbid any march on the Capitol or on the Congress. The assembly points will be a mile to the west of the Capitol, south of the White House on the Ellipse or still south of that at Washington Monument, groups will assemble there, then they’ll march down to the Lincoln Memorial and the meeting will be held there. I think it will be a peaceful march, a lot of technical details to work out, which I think can be handled. I think it’s going to be a success.
ERN Reporter:
Do you think it will influence the votes of any people in Congress?
Douglas:
Without question.
Geesey:
Congressman Emanuel Celler is from New York. He had this statement about the President’s Civil Rights bill.
Celler:
The Kennedy Bill as submitted to Congress is a good bill. It perhaps lacks certain features, which we will try to insert in the bill. For example, an FEPC. An FEPC is much coveted and desired by liberal people all over the country. It may present some difficulty when we reach the passage stage, but nonetheless, I think it’s essential to have an FEPC in the bill. In the 1957 Act, which incidentally there is my name in the Celler Civil Rights Act of 1957. We put in that bill a provision known as Part 3, which gives the Attorney General to show out by way of an injunction for the protection and erosion of rights for any individual who felt aggrieved. And that was stricken out of the 1957 Act in the Senate although it passed the House. I believe it’s essential to get that back into the 1963 Bill, to make the strong bill even stronger.
Edwards:
And you believe that these provisions will be in the bill at least as it leaves the Judiciary Committee?
Celler:
I cannot prophesy that. I hope that will be the case.
Geesey:
Congressman and Emanuel Celler of New York was also asked by ERN Reporter, David Edwards, to comment on Negro protest demonstrations that have taken place in the past.
Celler:
If I were a member of the colored race, and I was subject to all the humiliations, the ostracism, and the obloquy, I might have so many sanctions involved against me I certainly would do exactly as they did and rebel. And they are rebelling and that rebellion is quite understandable.
Geesey:
Senator Kenneth Keating, a Republican from New York State has stated his view of the Civil Rights Bill for ERN listeners.
Keating:
Well, in the first place I support all of the provisions of the bill submitted by the Administration. Nearly all of them are the subject of legislation, which I and several others have had in Congress for years. And, I’m very glad that the President has now so forcefully sent a bill to us. There are some respects, I must say, in which I feel a bill should be strengthened. For one thing, the bill does not in any way deal with the greatest problem of discrimination with which we’re faced namely in the field of jobs.
And I feel strongly that since the Negroes today are the first fired and the last rehired, that we must come to grips with this problem and any bill we pass. The rate of unemployment among Negroes is more than twice that among white citizens. And we must have legislation to prevent discrimination in hiring and firing. And we must have more stress on apprentice training for Negroes.
Geesey:
Senator Kenneth Keating, Republican of New York. Senator Keating also was asked about the Fair Employment Practices Amendment to be included in the President’s Civil Rights Bill, and here was his reply.
Keating:
We’ve had such a bill in New York State at the State level for years. It has worked very well and I believe that we will not be passing anything like full protection for our Negro citizens unless we do have such provisions in this bill. Now, a second thing that I feel is defective in this bill has to do with the measured proposed to assure non-discrimination under federal programs. This actually could be dealt with today by the President by an executive order. All that this recommended bill says is that an agency head shall have the right to withhold funds collected from all of our taxpayers, and then sent to a facility, which discriminates.
That power now exists. It could be done without legislation, and in my judgment nothing less than a mandatory requirement, which says that when federal funds are collected from all the taxpayers, they may not be sent to hospitals, or schools, or airports, or any of the other programs to which our taxpayers contributed billions of dollars. They do not give the same treatment to all of our citizens.
Finally, I feel strongly that the Civil Rights Commission should be extended indefinitely rather than for a fixed period as has been recommended by the President. Every time that this has come up for renewal, they have been faced with harassment and difficulties in having their life renewed and I believe that it should be made a permanent agency and indeed offered such an amendment in the Judiciary Committee, which we defeated by a tie vote.
I intend to offer it again. I the field of public accommodations, I want to say this that the attorney general has said that he would accept and would feel it would help the bill an amendment, which I have offered to make that apply to, make the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the public accommodations as well as the Commerce clause. And I think that the Fourteenth Amendment is a stronger moral basis for the public accommodations sections than is the Commerce clause. I think it can be sustained under either provision of the Constitution, but I’m glad that there is a willingness on the part of the Administration to accept this proposal, which I made.
Geesey:
Senator Kenneth Keating, Republican of New York speaking to ERN reporters these last few weeks about the Civil Rights Bill. There is action again now on the stage at the Lincoln Memorial. Let’s go to our ERN reporter, Al Hulsen.

Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, Bunche and Josephine Baker Address the Crowd at the Lincoln Memorial

Hulsen:
And speaking now to this vast crowd at the Lincoln Memorial is the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, famous for the Birmingham, Alabama campaign. Now we go to the stage and Reverend Shuttlesworth.
Shuttlesworth:
So we realize that if freedom belongs to anybody, it belongs to everybody, and until everybody has freedom, nobody is really free. Somebody has said that there wasn’t any use of our coming to Washington, DC. But you see, for years people from all over the world have been coming to Washington, DC. And now, more than ever people from everywhere are coming to Washington, DC and we felt like other people that Washington, DC is a place to come.
Now, we didn’t come to molest nor to cajole. We came to be peaceful and loving and law abiding because we are a law abiding people. We came because we love our country. We came because our country needs us and we need our country. But we came to serve notice today that if our country wants peace, tranquility, and quiet, they might as just free the Negro because until the Negro is free, nobody else will be free. We believe that the members of Congress, we think that Congress has a great responsibility today, can rise to meet the issues of this hour.
And the issue is not whether there should be freedom or how much freedom to bring. We ought to go back and read first things first. All persons born or naturalized are citizens. And we ought not to be arguing at this point on how much freedom to grant whom. Everybody in America ought to be free. And our final words are this. This meeting today only serves to emphasize that most of the people in this country now are ready to do whatever it takes in a non-violent, and religious, and righteous way to be free.
Now, in many places, the court’s calendars of the land are clogged. The police forces are being marshaled and lines taught to keep people from trying to be free. The judges have their hands full and the politicians are worrying night and day. Now, if the politicians want to be free, and if they want peace, if the judges want to unclog their calendar, if the police want to be unfettered so that they can go ahead and hunt crooks because people who want to be free are not necessarily crooks.
Then we should turn the Negro loose in America, we’ll be free. We’re going to march. We’re going to walk together. We’re going to stand together. We’re going to sing together. We’re going to stay together. We’re going to moan together. We’re going to groan together and after a while, we will have freedom, freedom, and freedom now. And we all shall be free and [inaudible].
Davis:
And now, to show the international character of the struggle of which we are currently engaged, I would like to introduce to you a person who though far in residence from our shores has come all the way from her home to be with us today, Ms. Josephine Baker.
Baker:
I want you to know that this is the happiest day of my entire life. And as you all must know, I have had a very long life and I’m 60 years old. The results today of seeing you all together is a sight for sore eyes. You’re together as salt and pepper just as you should be. Just as I’ve always wanted you to be and peoples of the world have always wanted you to be. You are a united people at last because without unity there cannot be any victory. You see, I’m glad that in my homeland where I was born in love and respect, I’m glad to see this day come to pass.
This day because you are on the eve of complete victory, and tomorrow, time will do the rest. I want you to know also how proud I am to be here today, and after so many long years of struggle fighting here and elsewhere for your rights, our rights, the rights of humanity, the rights of man, I’m glad that you have accepted me to come. I didn’t ask you. I didn’t have to. I just came because it was my duty and I’m going to say again you are on the eve of complete victory. Continue on. You can’t go wrong. The world is behind you.
Davis:
And now, my friends, the moment, our hour is upon us. We will have a few more introductions but because time is urgent and we have close here at a certain time in order to make trains back to the City, to other cities. We’re going to ask those people whom I will now introduce to be exceedingly brief and confine their statements to one short sentence if they can. I would like first to present to you a man who needs no introduction, Reverend Ralph Abernathy.
Abernathy:
Friends of freedom, I am delighted to greet you today and bring you greetings from down in Egypt Land. We are determined in the South and in America today to say to the pharaohs to let God’s people go free. This is not the culmination but this march today is the greatest demonstration since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln is just the beginning. Thank you.
Davis:
And now a group who came down from New York to bring us songs and their styling. Not a group. I beg your pardon. A young lady who sounds like a group. Ms. Joan Baez.
Joan Baez singing “All My Trials Will Soon Be Over.” Singing con’t.
Davis:
Thank you, Joan Baez. Ladies and gentlemen, there are many dignitaries and people of worth and value in this audience, and we’d like to introduce them to you, but we feel that the real hero of this occasion is those thousands of people who came from all over. The hero is you and we came here to serve you. We can’t introduce everybody but we would like to introduce some of those who happen to be with us one of whom is Dr. Ralph Bunche.
Bunche:
Thank you. I wish to say only that I’m not only happy to be participating with you in this effort today, I feel privileged and highly honored. My identification with this effort and with every legitimate effort for the emancipation of the Negro, the full emancipation of the Negro is automatic because I am a Negro, but I am here also and would be here also automatically as an American because what is being done here today is in my view one of the truest and finest expressions of American democracy at work. I think your presence here today marks a great day in the annals of American Democracy, and the message that you signal here by your presence people of both races in vast numbers is that this problem of race in the United States is not only our major national social problem, but it is in an acute stage, requires radical action and attention and must be solved without further delay, solved completely.
This is the simple and single message that I derive from this event today. And your presence has made that message profound and its impact has already been great, and it will be greater because anyone who cannot understand the significance of your presence here today is blind and deaf. And I thank you from the depths of my heart for being here.

Dick Gregory, Burt Lancaster and Harry Belafonte Speak at the March

Davis:
I would like to introduce very briefly a comedian fresh from the jail, Mr. Dick Gregory.
Geesey:
What you’re listening to is live coverage from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC Here’s Dick Gregory.
Gregory:
Thanks. Thank you very much and it’s a pleasure being here and nice being out of jail. And I’m very confused this year because I’d never thought I’d see the day I would give out more fingerprints than autographs. And I can’t tell you how elated I am over looking out at so many of our smiling faces. And to be honest with you, the last time I’ve seen this many of us, Bull Connor was doing all the talking. Thank you.
Davis:
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been asked by the chief marshals to ask you, please those who are standing in the back not to press so hard on those who are in front against the fences. Thank you. I would like now to introduce a young singer from New York, Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan singing “Medgar Evers” ballad. Singing con’t.
Davis:
We will bring...This will be our final selection from the folk singing group and we ask that all of you within the sound of their voices join in and express your feelings, Ms. Joan Baez, Mr. Bob Dylan, Len Chandler and others and a song of their own.
Baez, Dylan, Chandler and group singing “Eyes on the Prize.” Singing con’t.
Davis:
And now, we’re going to change our emphasis slightly as the hour by which we came approacheth. I would like to present to you a distinguished artist who flew all the way from Paris to bring you a scroll carrying the names of many of your supporters overseas. I give you Mr. Burt Lancaster.
Lancaster:
Thank you very much. I have here in my hand a scroll, which as you can see is rather poorly and inadequately wrapped, but it contains a statement that I would like to read to you which is neither poor nor inadequate. I bring it here with me from Paris where I’ve been working. A few days ago in Paris a group of citizens like yourself and me, Americans, gathered together and had a march of their own. They marched to the American Embassy where they were very courteously and graciously received by the Ambassador. And there they drafted a collective statement indicating their support for the march here today. I have some 1,500 names here.
Can I have it please, fellows? Thank you. I want to read an expression of Americans in Europe who read in the papers there everyday about the problems going on here. They couldn’t come here. Many of them work there. Many of them are traveling through. Many of them are attending school, but they are Americans. They are American citizens. They have the same feeling in their hearts and in their minds for the problems that bring us all here today at this moment. Let me read what they say. “We the undersigned hereby publicly express our support of the March on Washington Movement, which aspires not only to eradicate all racial barriers in American life, but to liberate all Americans from the prison of their biases and their fears.
So considered, the March on Washington Movement becomes one of the most amazing demonstrations for human dignity within living memory. We cannot physically participate in this march. But we like the rest of the world have been tremendously stirred by so disciplined an exhibition of dignity, and courage and persistence. All Americans traveling no matter where in the world today are in the position of ambassadors, and are very often made bitterly aware of our country’s reputation. It is not easy to be an American abroad.
Nor is it easy to make coherent to those who are not Americans the nature and the meaning of our struggle, and we are therefore forever indebted to those Americans represented by the March on Washington Movement for giving us so stunningly an example of what America aspires to become and for helping us to redefine in the middle of this dangerous century what is meant by the American Revolution.
We recognize that it is not only in America that the battle for freedom and dignity of peoples is being waived. The struggle toward freedom on the part of the previously subjugated is occurring in capitols and villages all over the world. It is on our awareness of what this struggle means, and in the degree of our dedication to it that our future and the future of the world depends. I just want to turn this over to Ossie and ask him if he will be kind enough to pass it onto the official body here so they will know about it.
Davis:
Thank you, Burt Lancaster. I accept the scroll from the people of Paris for the people of Washington, DC in the name of the Committee for the March on Washington. I would like now to introduce one man who will speak for the artists who have come to be with us today from Hollywood and Broadway. Some came from Canada. Some flew in from Chicago. They are from all over, but they are the people whom we have seen and whom we love, and they want this opportunity to give you their feelings about the March on Washington and what it means. I give you Mr. Harry Belafonte.
Geesey:
This is the preliminary program live from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, were everybody is gathered now in anticipation to the formal program, which will be on at two o’clock. Here’s Harry Belafonte.
Belafonte:
Mr. Burt Lancaster just referred to a scroll that he brought here from Paris with 1,500 names on it from fellow artists who could not be here with us today. However, although they’re not here in body, they’re here in spirit and there are many of us who were fortunate enough to be able to come here today with our bodies. I’d like to read off some of the names that are here today because most of them I cannot get to due to the length of the program and the length of the afternoon’s activities.
And I’d like to just read some of them because this is the first time in the history of a major civil rights gathering, and especially this one in Washington, DC that such artists have come forth. Mr. Marlon Brando. Mr. Tony Franciosa, Mr. James Garner, Ms. Rita Moreno, Mr. Frank Silvera, Mr. Sammy Davis, Jr., Mr. John Killins, Ms. Joanne Woodward, Ms. Susan Strasberg, Mr. Joe Mankiewicz, Mr. Steve Cochran, Mr. Burt Lancaster, Mr. Robert Ryan, Mr. Sidney Poitier, Ms. Diahann Carroll, Mr. Gregory Peck, Mr. Anthony Quinn, Mr. Paul Newman, Mr. Charlton Heston, Mr. Irwin Shaw, Mr. Bob Paris, Mr. James Baldwin, Ms. Lena Horne, Ms. Ruby Dee.
As I said before, this is just a partial reading of a number of artists who have in spirit and have in body supported the activities here today. I also have a statement to read on behalf of the Cultural Contingent, and it says, and all the names that I have just read to you endorse this statement. We are here today a witness to what we know. We know that this country, America, to which we are committed and which we love aspires to become that country in which all men are free. We also know that freedom is not license. Everyone in a democracy ought to be free to vote. But no one has the license to oppress or demoralize another.
We also know, or we would not be here, that the American Negro has endured for many generations in this country, which he helped to build, the most intolerable injustices. To be a Negro in this country means several unpleasant things. In the deep South it often means that he is prevented from exercising his right to vote by all manner of intimidation up to and including death. This fact of intimidation is a great weight in the life of any Negro and though it varies in degree it never varies in intent, which is simply to limit, to demoralize, and to keep in subservient status more than 20 million Negro people.
We are here, therefore, to protest this evil and to make known our resolve to do everything we can possibly do to bring it to an end. As artists and as human beings we rejoice in the knowledge that human experience has no color and that excellence in any endeavor is the fruit of individual labor and love, and we believe that artists have a valuable function in any society since it is the artists who reveal the society to itself. But we also know that any society which ceases to respect the human aspirations of all its citizens courts political chaos and artistic sterility.
We need the energies of these people to whom we have for so long denied full humanity. We need their vigor, their joy, the authority which their pain has brought them. In cutting ourselves off from them, we are punishing and diminishing ourselves. As long as we do so, our society is in great danger. Our growth as artists is severely menaced and no American can boast of freedom, for he cannot be considered an example of it. We are here then in an attempt to strike the chains which bind the ex-master no less than the ex-slave, and to invest with reality that deep and universal longing, which has sometimes been called, “The American Dream.”
Davis:
Ladies and gentlemen, the ten leaders of the Committee for the March on Washington are coming onto the platform.
Hulsen:
We might mention here at the Lincoln Memorial that those ten leaders include A. Philip Randolph, Director of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and nine others. The one person who was expected to be here and is not in attendance is James Farmer, the National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality. He will be represented among the big ten by Floyd McKissick, National Chairman of CORE.
Others in this group are Walter Reuther, President of the United Automobile Workers; Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the Stated Cleric of the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America; Rabbi Uri Miller, President of the Synagogue Council of America; Whitney M. Young, Jr., Executive Director the National Urban League; Mathew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice; Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary, National Association of the Advancement of Colored People; Rabbi Prinz, President of the American Jewish Congress; and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
This formal program, which was expected to begin at 2:00 is probably going to begin promptly at that time. More and more people are beginning to feel the results of the heat here and of the close quarters, particularly those up front right near the Lincoln Memorial. Every few moments, it seems that someone is being lifted over the fence to the Red Cross people, put on a stretcher and taken to one of the first aid tents. Another woman has just been brought over the fence.
Some time ago, they were passing out ice cubes to these people that are feeling the pressure of the crowd that goes back one mile to the Washington Monument. This helped apparently to some extent. There’s a lot of noise here, a lot of people talking, a lot of people clapping. Particularly, right here you hear typewriters and telephones from the news people. A lot of planes are going over. The Washington National Airport is just a short distance away. There is absolutely no space left here. All the seats that were prepared for the dignitaries on the steps and platforms of the Lincoln Memorial are entirely filled.
Davis:
...A. Philip Randolph.
Hulsen:
And now here is Mr. A. Philip Randolph, the Director of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. All around here those people that had been seated are now standing applauding Mr. Randolph who was given credit for originating the idea of a March on Washington. And as we said, sometime ago back in 1941 he originated the idea of a march; a march that wasn’t carried out because he did receive his demand from President Roosevelt to assure no racial discrimination in defense plants.
Randolph:
Hello, Americans. Permit me to present to you to sing the National Anthem Ms. Camilla Williams.
Camilla Williams singing “The National Anthem.” Singing con’t.
END AUDIO
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