Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50th Anniversary of March on Washington Link Round-Up

I'm teaching my seminar on "America in the Sixties" again this semester -- but, sadly, we just began and won't get to the March this week.  Pity  (I did skip ahead and talk about it a bit yesterday -- I couldn't resist -- although I don't know if it was useful or just confusing.)

Some reading about today's anniversary:

• In my seminar, we read the speech of John Lewis as delivered -- it was considered too radical by other March organizers and, with a personal appeal from A. Philip Randolph narrowly avoiding a walkout by SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, pronounced "snick"), Lewis rewrote it to tone it down.  It's on the web, though; you can read it here.  (Lewis, by the way, just published the first volume of a graphic-novel autobiography; I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but flipping through it it looks fabulous.  (They got a great artist, it seems -- thankfully, and crucially.))

Some recent media-provided historical context on the March:

Rick Perlstein, "The March on Washington in Historical Context"  Perlstein talks mostly about the fears people -- not just conservatives, but mainstream liberals (and whites generally) had about the march beforehand.

Harold Meyerson, "The Socialists Who Made the March on Washington"  Meyerson reviews some background about the march too often forgotten today

•, William P. Jones, "How Black Unionists Organized the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom"  Similar in theme to the previous link; an excerpt from a just-released book on the topic.

• Speaking of whom, both Jones and another historian with a timely book out about the March (in the latter case, I believe, specifically on King's speech) were guests on the amazing radio show Democracy Now! last week.  (Link to a transcript.)

• Relatedly, Democracy Now! has a good round-up of march-relevant interviews and materials from their show.

Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic has some good photographs of the March by Leonard Freed (which I'd never seen before).

Dave Zirin notes some differences between the original 1963 March and this past weekend's commemorative anniversary march.

An interview with one of the co-authors of a new book on the Freedom Budget, an ambitious policy plan (never seriously considered) which arose out of the March coalition.  The connecting hook:
Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech cannot be comprehended unless we understand it as the culmination of a March for Jobs and Freedom, linking economic justice with racial justice. From his college days in the late 1940s until his death in 1968, King was deeply committed to overcoming poverty and economic exploitation no less than to overcoming racism. He came to see the struggles to overcome economic and racial oppression as inseparable.
Read the rest.

• And Digby puts up some really stunningly good clips from MSNBC (!) about King's legacy and its depoliticization in American memory.  Is Up with Chris Hayes always this good?  I may need to actually watch it.

• I hadn't realized, until Angus Johnston pointed it out this morning, that William Zantzinger (op. cit.) was sentenced on the day of the March.  (Nor that his sentence was deferred until after the tobacco harvest.)  Bury the rag deep in your face.

The official program from the March is online here.

• Did you know that the "dream"section of MLK's famous speech was improvised?  If not, the story's retold in the Times today.

Joseph Stiglitz on a common theme, touched in many of these links, about the forgotten "jobs" part of the March for Jobs and Freedom:
Like so many looking back over the past 50 years, I cannot but be struck by the gap between our aspirations then and what we have accomplished. True, one “glass ceiling” has been shattered: we have an African-American president. But Dr. King realized that the struggle for social justice had to be conceived broadly: it was a battle not just against racial segregation and discrimination, but for greater economic equality and justice for all Americans. It was not for nothing that the march’s organizers, Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph, had called it the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In so many respects, progress in race relations has been eroded, and even reversed, by the growing economic divides afflicting the entire country.
Read the rest.

...and that's what I've seen so far.  I'll add more later if I see more.  (Update: Yup.)

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