The Power of the People to End Segregation and Legal Discrimination
August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. To commemorate this milestone, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Committee, Inc. is planning a memorial to the “foot soldiers” of the March – the ordinary citizens who risked the threat of personal harm to magnify the impact of the words of the civil rights leaders who spoke that day. These quarter of a million men and women helped to create the spectacle that resulted in the passage of two bills that brought segregation and legal discrimination to an end. We are asking for your assistance in identifying as many of these individuals as possible so to include their names on a large plaque. Our goal is to raise at least $20,000 for the commissioning of this important public tribute to those whose legacy of equal rights under the law is enjoyed by all.
On August 28, 1963, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, more than 250,000 people from across the nation converged on Washington, DC. Arriving by chartered and commercial buses and airplanes, and countless automobiles, they gathered in peace and unity on the National Mall in support of civil and economic rights for African Americans.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, or The Great March on Washington, as it has come to be known, was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history.
The march began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial and included a program of speakers and musicians, among them the six civil-rights leaders of the so-called "Big Six" – Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish religious leaders, and labor leader Walter Reuther. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was the last official orator.
Dr. King’s speech was carried live by television news stations, so people in living rooms across the country joined those hundreds of thousands of Marchers who bore witness to some of the most famous words ever spoken.
"I have a dream," Dr. King declared, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character..."
Dr. King’s message of racial harmony, known as his “I Have a Dream” speech, has been hailed as a masterpiece of rhetoric and was added to the National Recording Registry. Dr. King and his fellow orators earned their place in our country’s history books that day and the March is largely credited with leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act the following year and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which ended segregation in the same manner that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in 1863.
The “Foot Soldiers”
Not as often recognized for their contributions are the people who traveled from near and far, ignoring the threat of potential violence, to add their ordinary voices to those leaders of civil rights, labor and religious groups to create something truly extraordinary.
It is these individuals who the Annapolis, MD-based Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee Inc., (the Committee) seek to honor with the placement of a commemorative plaque bearing many of their names.
This group has successfully placed two other memorials to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Anne Arundel County – both funded by private donations. A memorial to King was erected at Anne Arundel Community College in 2006 after the Committee raised more than $250,000. In 2011, the Committee dedicated a plaque and garden tribute to Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King at Sojourner Douglass College in Edgewater, MD (just south of Annapolis).
Carl O. Snowden, chairman of the Committee, spearheaded both these efforts and hopes to have similar success with this current project. He envisions that a large bronze plaque recognizing the “foot soldiers” of the civil rights movement will not only commemorate the contributions of these ordinary citizens, but educate and hopefully inspire another generation to take up the cause of equality for all people.
The Committee hopes to raise at least $20,000 to finance the commissioning of the plaque(s), which will be placed in Whitmore Park in the City of Annapolis. Any amount raised in excess of this goal will be used to enhance the tribute and the surrounding grounds. An unveiling is planned for August 28, 2013, with more details to be announced as they become available.
Donations can also be made by check in recognition or memory of a “foot soldier” and mailed to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Committee Inc., PO Box 371, Annapolis, MD 21404.
For more information about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Committee, Inc., go to www.mlkmd.org. And please tell your colleagues, family and friends about our effort.