The 1963 March on Washington Started in 1941

The 1963 March on Washington Started in 1941

The Civil Rights demonstration on August 28, 1963 was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Jobs came first, since the right to vote means little without job opportunity and a living wage. The event, produced in 8 weeks, had really been 22 years in the making. A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters planned such a march for equal employment opportunity in 1941, and was only dissuaded when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, banning job discrimination in the World War II defense industries.

Black America did not see much benefit from the Postwar economic boom. In the spring of 1963, after protesters were met with clubs, dogs and firehouses in Birmingham and George Wallace in the Tuscaloosa schoolhouse door, A. Philip Randolph met with President Kennedy to tell him the March was back on. Walter Reuther and members of the UAW supported the March, as did members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the Transport Workers Union, Screen Actors Guild, and other labor unions. After all, it was about Jobs and Freedom.

There is a nine-foot-tall statue of A. Philip Randolph near the Amtrak platforms in Washington DC’s Union Station. It may be the only monument to him in the Nation’s Capitol.


“The March on Washington Was 22 Years in the Making,” Carl M. Cannon, Real Clear Politics

“Asa Philip Randolph: The often overlooked inspiration for the March on Washington,” Mark Woods,

“Toward a Freedom Budget,” A. Philip Randolph, Dissent


Short Link: Image (A. Philip Randolph statue, Union Station) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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