Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington

I don't recall The March on Washington having any effect on me one way or another. Puzzled me.  I was aware of it.  Knew it was happening, Read papers, heard news on radio if not always on TV.  Surely my family didn't like it. By that time I was becoming uncomfortable with the language of racism & turned off  by the violence. I was beginning to feel the civil rights cause was unstoppable. It  wasn't affecting me much where I lived.

Then I realized I was almost certainly with my Grandmother in Atlantic City on Wednesday August 28, 1963.  Rarely read newspapers there. Watched TV only for an hour or two in the evening if I wasn't on the boardwalk. I usually had a novel to read in bed, & listened to the local rock station my small transistor radio. I simply wasn't paying attention.

Recently read this book: The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, a new book by William P. Jones. Not the most enjoyable prose I ever read. Crammed with facts. It begins before WWII, with A. Philip Randolph's plans for the first March on Washington in 1941, how the groundwork was laid then for the 1963 march, with many of the same leaders & organizers. About 80% of the history, involving labor unions, African-American organizations, African-American women's groups, many unfamiliar names, was new to me.

One of the demands of the 1963 March, stated at the end from the podium by Bayard Rustin, was for a higher minimum wage.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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