1963 February 24

A. Philip Randolph Announces Plan for “Pilgrimage” to Washington


Civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph on this day announced a plan for a “Pilgrimage” to Washington, D.C., to demand civil rights. This plan evolved into the famous March on Washington on August 28, 1963, which featured the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech. There had been three smaller civil rights marches on Washington in the 1950s, which are largely ignored in histories of the Civil Rights Movement: May 17, 1957; October 25, 1958; and April 18, 1959.

The 1963 march fulfilled Randolph’s dream of a march in 1941, but which he cancelled after confronting President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 18, 1941, and winning a major concession. Roosevelt tried to persuade him into cancelling the march, but Randolph refused unless the president prohibited race discrimination in employment in the defense industries. FDR caved and issued Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941.

Watch the 1963 March on Washingtonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj-feUZ32wI

Read: Andrew Kersten, A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard (2007)

Read about the long history of marching on Washington: Lucy G. Barber, Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition (2002)

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