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March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

March on Washington redirects here. For other marches on Washington, D.C., see List of protest marches on Washington, D.C.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington,[1] [2] was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for civil and economic rights for African Americans. At the march, Martin Luther King Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic I Have a Dream speech in which he called for an end to racism.[3]

The march was organized by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who built an alliance of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations[4] that came together under the banner of jobs and freedom.[5] Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 to 300,000;[6] the most widely cited estimate is 250,000 people.[7] Observers estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were black.[8] The march was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history.[5]

The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [9] [10] and preceded the Selma Voting Rights Movement which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[11]

Although African Americans had been legally freed from slavery, elevated to the status of citizens and the men given full voting rights at the end of the American Civil War, many continued to face social, economic, and political repression over the years and into the 1960s. In the early 1960s, a system of legal discrimination, known as Jim Crow laws, were pervasive in the American South, ensuring that Black Americans remained oppressed. They also experienced discrimination from businesses and governments, and in some places were prevented from voting through intimidation and violence.[12] Twenty-one states prohibited interracial marriage.[13]

The impetus for a march on Washington developed over a long period of time, and earlier efforts to organize such a demonstration included the

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