News / USA

Women Recall '63 March on Washington

Women Recall the '63 March on Washingtoni
X
August 27, 2013 7:01 PM
Women were instrumental to the Civil Rights movement in the United States and helped rally the people who attended the March on Washington 50 years ago. If you look at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, however, the key speakers were male. VOA's Suzanne Presto in Washington has more.
Women Recall the '63 March on Washington
Suzanne Presto
In August of 1963, an estimated 250,000 people from across the country gathered for the March on Washington to call for racial equality.        

The turnout on the National Mall was a credit to organizers such as Eleanor Holmes Norton. She is now a congresswoman, and back in 1963 she worked in New York City publicizing the march and arranging transportation to the capital.  

Norton stayed in New York to help with last-minute arrangements the night before the march, and she recalls the view as she flew into Washington the morning of the event.

"You could already see people assembling in such large numbers that it was clear, unmistakably clear to me, that this march was going to be successful," she said.

"We stood there in amazement"

Among those gathered that day was Thelma Daley, now chair of Women in the NAACP, a civil rights organization. She reflected upon the events of August 28, 1963, at a recent event in Washington.     

Daley attended the march with friends after learning about it from Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women.

"We stood there in amazement because we were early and we were up front, and we could see people coming and coming and coming and coming," she said. "You look back and you say, 'Gee, you were really a part of that.'  And you never realize
at the moment that you are a part of history."

She recalled seeing people of different races and ages, carrying a variety of signs.  While the crowd's diversity struck Daley, so did a lack of diversity at the speakers' podium.  

"We were all so excited that Dr. Height was going to be on the stage, and the amazing thing is that we were waiting for Dr. Height to speak," she said. "I have to tell you that.  We were waiting, the group of us who had come.  We didn't know the full story then."

The story was that Height was not among the designated speakers, despite her prominence.  

Aside from a brief tribute to black women, the female voices on stage that day were heard singing, not speaking.  

Honoring girls and women

Yet women helped organize the movement, and both women and girls were key figures in flashpoint moments in history.  

Take Ruby Bridges, the first black student to attend a desegregated school in New Orleans in 1960. She inspired a famous Norman Rockwell painting that depicts a small girl with a ribbon in her hair and schoolbooks in hand, protected by federal marshals as she walks past a racial slur that had been scrawled on the school.   
 
Ruby Bridges Hall met with President Barack Obama at the White House in 2011 when the iconic painting was on display there.  

"The girl in that painting at six years old knew absolutely nothing about racism," she said. "I was going to school that day."

Another moment seared into the nation's memory: a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four little black girls. The murders, just weeks after the March on Washington, triggered protests and nationwide outrage. This year, posthumously, the four girls were awarded Congressional Gold Medals.

Then there was the incident involving Rosa Parks, a name synonymous with civil rights. In 1955, Parks refused to move to the back of a bus in the segregated South and was arrested. Black residents of Montgomery, Alabama, staged a yearlong bus boycott in protest.  

A statue of Rosa Parks was unveiled in the Capitol this year. At the ceremony, President Obama said Parks lived a life of activism, dignity and grace.

"And in a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America - and change the world," he said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs