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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs