July/August 2013
June 20, 2013

50 years later: March to renew the civil rights message of 1963

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT United
march on washington
Caption: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., third from left, marches in a line of men with arms linked during the March on Washington for civil rights on Aug. 28, 1963. (AP Photo)

UPDATE JULY 26

Be a part of history: Sign up now for 50th anniversary March on Washington, D.C. 

March on Washington posterThousands of activists this summer will renew the call for jobs and justice when they descend upon the nation's capital Saturday, Aug. 24, to mark the 50-year anniversary of the momentous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

NYSUT is sponsoring buses to this historic event; check with your regional office for details. To coordinate transportation efforts, contact Field Services at NYSUT headquarters, 800-342-9810. 

Here's a new promotional flier you can download and share with your members.

50 years later: March to renew the civil rights message of 1963

Thousands of activists this summer will renew the call for civil and human rights when they descend upon the nation's capital Saturday, Aug. 24, to mark the 50-year anniversary of the momentous March on Washington.

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in U.S. history and forever changed the course of the country. 

More than 250,000 people called out for peaceful solutions to racial discrimination in jobs, voting, housing and public accommodations. The march was organized by civil rights, labor and religious leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered the defining speech of the civil rights movement: "I Have a Dream."

The 50th anniversary march will also raise awareness about issues of concern to laborers, educators, students, people of color, civil rights activists, farm workers, domestic workers, immigrants and more.

"This march is a call and reminder to students, parents and union members about what we have to do to take back public education ... We have largely segregated schools populated by disadvantaged students and students of color who are not receiving their fair share of education. They are being denied access simply because they're poor," said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler, who oversees social justice activism for the union. "Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us we just can't sit back and not question injustice," Cutler said.

New lesson plans about the 1963 march, based on interviews with actual organizers of the event, will be available by August at Share My Lesson - www.sharemylesson.com - the AFT's free online resource for educators. The lessons were written by members of the United Federation of Teachers, NYSUT's affiliate representing members in New York City.

Leo Casey, director of the Albert Shanker Institute, pulled together two different panels of both organizers and historians who were involved with the 1963 March on Washington. UFT members were then able to spend time with them to gain rich, primary source information for the lesson plans.

Among the organizers interviewed were Rachelle Horowitz, transportation coordinator for the 1963 March and then AFT political director; Walter Tague, longtime partner of march organizer Bayard Rustin; and Norman Hill, field director for the 1963 march and director emeritus of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

Historians included Eric Arensen, who has written books on African-American labor; and Charles Euchner, who compiled an oral history of the march.

The lessons will explore the extraordinary lives of Randolph and Rustin, the primary organizers of the march who forged a plan for mass action and non-violence. They will, Casey said, "show the connection between labor and civil rights, and the demands of the march for labor."

If you go...

NYSUT, along with its national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, is supporting the 2013 march.

Transportation efforts will be coordinated with national organizations. Members who wish to attend should check with their NYSUT regional office; or call NYSUT headquarters' Field Services department at 800-342-9810.

Events commemorating the march's 50th anniversary will be held Aug. 24-28 in Washington. D.C.