Fifty Year Anniversary Since Martin Luther King Had a Dream
OBJECT OF THE FORTNIGHT 04/09/2013 PEACE NEWS NEWSPAPER ARTICLE – ‘THE GREAT MARCH’ Fifty years ago on the 28th of August, Martin Luther King (a leading Civil Rights activist) stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people and delivered the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Last week, President Barack Obama stood in the same spot to commemorate its fifty year anniversary. King’s speech in 1963 was part of the (Great) March on Washington. In the museum’s collection there is a Peace News newspaper (from the 6th of September 1963) with the headline ‘The Great March’, describing the event in an article – see below. The aims of the peaceful protest or rally were to encourage the government to provide jobs and freedom for African-Americans. Joblessness was common for African-Americans as racism, ignorance and pressure from groups meant that employers were reluctant to employ African-Americans, and if they were employed, the pay was next to nothing. The March wanted to bring about public works programmes to train African-Americans to help them gain employment, and also to encourage employers to employee African-Americans and give them a minimum wage. Despite the abolition of slavery in 1864, African-Americans were denied basic civil and human rights. For example, literary tests were introduced to prevent many from being able to register to vote; inter-racial marriages were banned; racial segregation was enforced, in schools and on buses to name a few places. Many African-Americans suffered injustices, abuse and violence on a daily basis. The following link: http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/day-that-shook-the-world/episode/asc/playlist/49 has video footage of the day and event, with speech excerpts. When King stood up and gave these famous words, he cemented his place in history as the world’s greatest orator and paved a path towards change in America. The rally achieved its aims as it pressurised the government to introduce the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which outlawed racial discrimination and racial segregation in public places, the workplace and schools) and the 1965 Voting Act (which outlawed the literary tests that had prevented many African-Americans from registering to voting). King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, a year after his speech. King and other winners, along with their stories, campaigns and achievements, can be seen in a temporary exhibition at The Peace Museum about 20th and 21st century Nobel Peace Prize winners.