49th anniversary of the March on Washington

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


Today is the 48th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Hedrick Smith, a former reporter wrote a piece today for the Daily Beast that offers a great introduction to the photo taken above by Shirley Franklin.

“Thinking of the violence and tensions I had witnessed as a reporter covering the struggle in the Deep South, I was struck by the relaxed and cheerful mood of that citizen army. Parents played with children or lolled under the trees by the Reflecting Pool. Others sauntered toward the Mall or spread blankets beneath the rising sun, fathers dozing off with newspapers folded over their eyes. The event had the sunny air of a mass picnic.

But this was no picnic. It was history in the making, the largest peaceful demonstration that Washington had witnessed until that time. It was more than that, too. It was a festival of democracy—a mass celebration of the power of civic activism, of insistent pressures from the heartland for elected officials to respond to popular demands for fairness, equality, and social justice.”


  1. Nedra cook says:

    I was very happy to see some information regarding the struggles and events that a diverse group of people have been envolved in making a difference. I am trying to contact women that went on the Million Woman March in 1997. I was on bus # 3 from Minneapolis, MN. We women bonded on that trip and I will never forget that experience. If someone reads this and can share some information on how to contact someone that has any information please forward my email address. Sincerely Grateful. Nedra

  2. I can’t help but recall how people of faith– Christians, Jews, and others– were the progressives whose spiritual bearings mandated fighting for equality and justice for all. (There’s also something in the Constitution about that if I recall.) It turns one’s stomach to hear rhetoric like “We own this country!” Just who would that “we” include? There was a lot going on in the news cycle, but there could well have been more coverage of the 49th Anniversary of the March on Washington. We need some strong reminding of where we’ve been in order to not get lost as we move (hopefully) forward! We don’t need to force fed a cotton candy America with nostalgia for “the good ole days.” That would be the good ole days before the activism of the 60’s resulted in civil rights, social justice, reproductive rights, an end to at least one unnecessary and possibly illegal war. We need to be very careful! Getting back on track means “just say NO” to going backwards. Already from speeches you can see it all– seize power, restrict rights, undercut the poor and middle class, and the say you’ve boosted the economy by rekindling the military industrial complex via a new cold war and going to war with Iran. Perhaps people should forget about convention hats– and use what’s allegedly underneath it.