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Do you think the Martin Luther King’s dream of a society in which people are judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” has been realized? Why or why not? What can you personally do to build a more fair and just society?
August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where 250,000 peaceful demonstrators of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to show their support for equal treatment for African Americans under the law, and equal access to good jobs. The march took place on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s famous Civil War address that declared the majority of slave in the United States free.
While the Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal,” people of color received vastly different treatment from whites, even after the Civil War and the end of slavery. They weren’t allowed in many public schools, they had to eat at separate restaurants and use separate bathrooms, and they had to pay taxes and pass literacy tests to vote. The idea was to keep blacks “separate but equal.”
While at the time of the March on Washington African Americans had made great legal strides, like gaining the right to vote and attend schools, continued widespread discrimination meant that these and many other laws were often not enforced, especially in the South. With racial tension high and the robust non-violent protest movement gaining traction around the country, civil rights leaders decided that it was time for a massive demonstration in the nation’s capital to call for equal protection under the law.
Marchers came from all over the country on buses, trains and in cars. Three brave students walked and hitchhiked 700 miles to get there.
Nearly all of the leaders of the civil rights movement attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, but the most famous part of the day was when Martin Luther King came to the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his famed “I Have a Dream” speech.
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation,” King said to the crowd.
One year later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made segregation in public places illegal, required employers to provide equal employment opportunities, and protected the right to vote of every American, regardless of the color of their skin.
PBS NewsHour video The March on Washington at 50: What is its Relevance Today? – Aug. 12, 2013
To kick off our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march, PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown recently posed a question to NewsHour regulars Michael Beschloss and Ellen Fitzpatrick, along with Kenneth Mack of Harvard Law School and George Chauncey of Yale University: “When you look back from this distance, what strikes you about [the March on Washington’s] relevance to today, the way it is remembered or not?”
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowDrKing
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
PBS video series The March @50 – Aug. 26, 2013
Fifty years after the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, has America delivered on the marchers’ demands for Jobs, Freedom, Equal Education and Voting Rights? In the documentary web series “The March @50,” filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman explores this question with a critical eye. Each short episode in the series examines a theme of the 1963 March on Washington through a contemporary lens. These short documentaries look at how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go to address the major issues of the Civil Rights Era all these decades later.
PBS NewsHour Extra resources 10 Resources for Teaching the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington – Aug. 20, 2013
August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech. This anniversary presents the perfect opportunity to teach about the history of the civil rights movement and the ongoing effects of racial discrimination in America. NewsHour Extra has compiled a list of seven engaging lesson plans and one resource page to help teachers take on this depthy subject. Try them out, and let us know how you tackle this important subject in the classroom!
History Channel segment History Specials: King Leads the March on Washington – Jan. 7, 2012
On August 28, 1963, a quarter million people gather to support civil rights, and share Dr. King’s “dream” of equality.
KQED Do Now is produced in collaboration with PBS NewsHour Extra. This post was written by Allison McCartney of PBS NewsHour Extra.