In August, an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 people participated in a peaceful march to advocate for civil and economic rights for all Americans.
Civic activism was on full display at The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963. The event, which pushed for an end to segregation and job discrimination against blacks and other disenfranchised groups, attracted participants from across the nation. It was largest group petition for civil rights in the United States at the time. Protesters demanded job training and placement for blacks, integration of public schools, legislation to prohibit discrimination in job hiring and passage of the Kennedy administration’s proposed Civil Rights Act. The march culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous and inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
This major event put the civil rights movement on the national stage and ultimately helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Afro-American was a powerful voice in the black community. As the civil rights movement progressed, the black press and this newspaper in particular were used as a forum for debate and education, and for the dissemination of information about the movement.
John Henry Murphy Sr., a former slave, began The Afro-American newspaper in 1892 in Baltimore, Md. Murphy’s goal for the weekly paper was to “stay out of politics except to expose corruption and condemn injustice, race prejudice and the cowardice of compromise.” By the 1920s, the paper expanded to include Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pa., Newark, N.J., and Richmond, Va., editions. Later, it gained a national readership with 13 different editions. Notable Afro-American journalists included Langston Hughes and Lillian Johnson, the first female sportswriter at a black newspaper.