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The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Unit 2, Lesson 7

Use images, artifacts, and audio clips to develop a more nuanced understanding of the March on Washington.

Overview

Enduring Understandings

  • The March on Washington was a complex event that was more than simply the venue for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
  • Many different kinds of people participated in the March on Washington, both on the stage and in the crowd.

Essential Questions

  • What were the (sometimes conflicting) purposes/goals of the March on Washington?
  • Who participated in the March on Washington, as demonstrators and as speakers, and what presence did the Jewish community have?
  • What do the speeches at the March on Washington tell us about the Civil Rights Movement?

Materials Required

Notes to Teacher

The beginning of this lesson includes a slideshow, which requires a computer with internet access, a projector, and a screen or blank wall. If you would like to show the images without being connected to the Internet, you could create your own slideshow or print the pictures and hang them around the room or hand them out to students to explore in small groups.

Introductory Essay(s)

An Introduction to the March on Washington

On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people descended on Washington, DC for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Coming at the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and a time at which the Civil Rights Movement faced violent opposition in the South but was gaining support from a wider American public, the March was planned by a coalition of civil rights organizations as a large-scale, non-violent demonstration. It went down in history as the largest demonstration ever up to that time. The image of the Washington Mall filled with people and the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech" have become enduring icons of the Civil Rights Movement.

But the March on Washington was not without conflict and controversy. Differences among the leaders of the March also threatened to erupt. Though some of the March's organizers saw its purpose as supporting President John F. Kennedy's call for a civil rights bill, others wanted the March to raise attention to civil rights and economic issues beyond the bill; some even wanted to condemn the Kennedy Administration for their slowness to respond to civil rights issues. The White House initially opposed the event, afraid it would become violent and would derail the proposed legislation.

The idea for the March came from labor leader and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph, the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, president of the Negro American Labor Council, and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. He had proposed a similar March on Washington in 1941 to protest discrimination against blacks in wartime industries. President Roosevelt convinced him to call off that demonstration by allowing blacks to work in military factories. In 1963, Randolph revived the idea of a March on Washington, and with his associate Bayard Rustin, organizer of the first Freedom Ride in 1947, organized leaders of the major civil rights organizations – Whitney Young of the National Urban League, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, James Farmer of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and John Lewis of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – to support it. When the White House saw the broad support for the March, they gave up their initial opposition and endorsed it, encouraging white organizations, such as the United Auto Workers, Jewish institutions, and the Catholic Church, to participate. While the labor organizations and the National Urban League focused on the "jobs" part of the March's title – the economic condition of African Americans – the other organizations focused primarily on the goal of "freedom" – basic civil rights.

One conflict in the planning of the March concerned the speech to be given by John Lewis, the leader of SNCC. Lewis wanted to use the platform of the March provocatively, to push the public to take stronger action. In the original draft of his speech, Lewis used the language of revolution and the analogy of General Sherman's march through the South (in the Civil War), in which he burned down Atlanta, to call on civil rights activists to march through the South with equal purpose and force. The Kennedy administration and some of the March's leadership demanded Lewis change his speech, but Lewis and other student leaders protested this censorship. Ultimately, a personal intervention from Randolph persuaded Lewis to tone down his speech. Lewis recalls that Randolph approached him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said, "'John we've come so far together, let's stay together. For the sake of unity make these changes... Delete the reference to Sherman.' And you couldn't say no to A. Philip Randolph." (Quoted in NPR report, “Behind the March on Washington: A 40th Anniversary Look at the Struggles to Stage the Event,” August 22, 2003.) This compromise enabled Lewis to remain part of the program, but alienated many radical activists, who felt that the March was merely a "picnic," not an effective political protest.

Women leaders of the civil rights movement, such as Dorothy Height, President of National Council of Negro Women and a long-standing activist, also noticed something missing from the March's program: women. Though a few female singers, such as Josephine Baker, Marian Anderson, and Joan Baez, graced the podium, no women were invited to deliver speeches. This absence prompted Height and her colleague, Polly Cowan, to focus their work moving forward on women's role in the Civil Rights Movement. In the months after the March on Washington, they developed the "Wednesdays in Mississippi" program to bring black and white northern and southern women together to educate and support one another in civil rights activism (see Unit 2 lesson 5).

The March attracted a large and diverse crowd: black and white, young and old, women and men, seasoned activists and first-time demonstrators came together on the Washington Mall. Approximately one quarter of the marchers were white; one sixth were students.

The Jewish presence at the March on Washington was notable. Jewish leadership represented on the platform included Shad Polier of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Leon Foyer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, George Maislan of the United Synagogue of America, Rabbi Joachim Prinz of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Uri Miller of the Synagogue Council of America. Rabbi Miller gave one of the opening prayers, and Rabbi Joachim Prinz delivered one of the main speeches. Prinz, a refugee from Eastern Europe, drew on the lessons of the Holocaust as the imperative for speaking out and supporting civil rights. These public figures were joined by thousands of Jewish marchers, some of whom marched under the banners of Jewish organizations, such as the National Federation of Temple Youth, the United Synagogue of America, and the Emma Lazarus Federation, and many others who traveled to Washington with secular groups or with friends and family.

The significance of the March on Washington was determined by its unexpected size – the image of the crowd spreading from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument was astounding not only to those present but to those following the event from home on television – and by the power of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech. King not only demanded justice in language taken from the prophets (e.g. Amos 5:24: "… until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream") but also – in an extemporaneous, poetic coda to his prepared speech – shared his own dreams of a world in which his children would be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" and in which we would all be "free at last." His words and vision are the most lasting legacy of the March on Washington.

Lesson Plan

What We Know About the March on Washington

  1. Using a computer and computer projector, access "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" and project it onto the screen.

  2. Show the first four slides up on a screen at the front of the classroom. Identify these pictures as being from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Explain that the name "March on Washington" is now used by many different groups, but was popularized by this march in particular. In fact, a March on Washington was planned for 1941 to protest segregation of the defense industries, but never took place. The threat of it forced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ban discrimination in the defense industries.

    OR

    If you do not have access to a computer, computer projector, and screen in your classroom, you can print some of the images included in the Document Studies prior to class (enlarge them if possible or print onto overhead sheets) and show the pictures to your class to begin this discussion.
  3. Draw a chart with three columns on your white board, chalk board, or a piece of chart paper. (You can also use a computer and projector to create and add to this chart.) At the top of the first column, write "What we know." At the top of the second column, write "What we want to know." At the top of the third column, write "What we learned." (You will fill in the first two columns now, and the third column at the end of the class.)
  4. Ask your students to help you fill in the first column by sharing what they already know about the March on Washington. If your students need help getting started, you might ask a few of the following questions.
    • When did the March on Washington take place?
    • What was it meant to accomplish? How well did it accomplish these things?
    • What famous speech was given at the March on Washington? Who else spoke at the March on Washington?
    • Describe the people who participated in the March on Washington. (on stage, as part of the crowd)
  5. Ask your students to help you fill in the second column by sharing other things that they might like to know about the March on Washington. If your students need help getting started, you might include questions from above that they weren't able to answer yet.
  6. Explain that the March on Washington is a far more complex event than often presented. Today, we'll form research groups to discover many of the complexities of the March on Washington. Then each group will add what they learned to our class chart.
  7. Show the remainder of the slide show and share some background about the March on Washington (see introductory essay), for example:
    • Timing of the March in terms of political context of 1963 and the proposed Civil Rights Act
    • Leaders and organizers of the March
    • Goals of the March's organizers (and their potential conflicts)
    • Initial opposition of the White House to the March
  8. Depending on your students' level of interest (and your own goals for this lesson), you may want to take this opportunity to go into greater detail about the March, using the introductory essay.

A More Complicated Story of the March

  1. Divide your class up into three groups. Provide each group with one of the Document Studies.
  2. Read the directions on the first page of the Document Studies as a class. Make sure your students understand their assignment. Send groups off to different areas of the classroom to begin work on their assignment.
  3. Once in their groups, explain:
    Each group’s Document Study has a different question as its title. Rather than answering that question right now, keep it in the back of your mind as you discuss each document. You will likely discover that the answer(s) to that question may be more complicated than you first had thought.

Putting it Together

  1. When you see that each group has worked their way through their documents and the analysis questions at the end (refer back to the directions at the beginning of each Document Study), tell your students about their next steps:
    • Once you have selected one or two documents and written captions for those documents, decide what you want to teach your classmates about what you just learned about the March on Washington. What aspect(s) of the March on Washginton did your group focus on? How have these documents shaped your understanding of the March on Washington? What did you learn about the complex answers to your group's question? (Your group's question is the question that serves as the title of your Document Study.)
    • Be sure every member of your group is ready to talk about the documents you chose and the complex answers to your group's question.
  2. Jigsaw: When the groups are ready, transition into a Jigsaw activity. Bring the class back together and then divide students into three new groups (A, B, and C). Each of the new groups should include a cluster of students from Group #1, a cluster of students from Group #2, and a cluster of students from Group #3. Once in their new groups, each cluster of students should have a turn teaching about the documents their (original) group studied and the complex answers to their group's question.

Document Studies

What were the goals and messages of the March on Washington?

What were the goals and messages of the March on Washington?

Directions

  1. Examine each document in your packet one at a time, reading any texts out loud. Discuss the Description Discussion Questions with each document.
  2. After examining all of the documents in your packet, read and discuss the Analysis questions (below).
  3. Using the Analysis questions as a guide, choose 1 or 2 documents (or excerpts from documents) that you think best demonstrate what your group learned.
  4. Write captions for your documents.
  5. Your teacher will give you further instructions as to how your group will share your findings.

March on Washington Button

March on Washington Button
Full image
Button belonging to Charly Mann, who went to the March on Washington the summer before 8th grade. http://www.chapelhillmemories.com/cat/14/83. Permission to use granted by Charly Mann.

March on Washington Button: Discussion Questions - Description

  1. What do you see on this button? (Give everyone in the group a chance to add something that they see.)
  2. Just looking at the button, what do you think the phrase "Jobs and Freedom" means? What do you see that makes you say that?
  3. Based on what you see in this button, what do you think were some of the implicit and explicit goals of the 1963 March on Washington? What makes you say that?
  4. Based on what you've already learned about the Civil Rights Movement, what types of freedoms do you think the marchers hoped to bring about?

Photograph of the March on Washington featuring "We march for..." signs and Civil Rights Movement leaders

We march for...
Full image
United States Information Agency, photograph of the March on Washington (civil rights and union leaders), August 28, 1963. National archive number 80-G-16871. Retrieved from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:March_on_washington_Aug_28_1963.jpg

Marchers Photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

  1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
  2. What do the slogans on the placards suggest to you? How are they the same or different from what you remember of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech?
  3. Why do you think the photographer framed the picture the way he/she did? How would the effect have been different if the man with his back to the camera had been left out? How would the effect have been different if the photographer had zoomed in on only a few people in the front row?
  4. Based on what you see in this photograph, what specific demands did the civil rights activists at the March on Washington have?
  5. If you made some predictions about the goals of the marchers, based on the March on Washington button on the previous page, how accurately did your predictions match the demands on signs in this photograph?

Context for John Lewis speech

John Lewis was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at the time of the March on Washington. The youngest of the "Big Six," (as the heads of a group of major civil rights organizations were known), Lewis wanted to use the platform of the March provocatively, to push the public to take stronger action. After a draft of his original speech was circulated, President Kennedy's administration and some of the March's leadership demanded that Lewis change his speech. Lewis and other student leaders protested this censorship, but ultimately, a personal intervention from respected civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph persuaded Lewis to tone down his speech.

Note: Audio of John Lewis' speech from a live radio broadcast can be downloaded from NPR. After his speech, one of the radio commentators notes that changes were made in the speech from the prepared text given to the press earlier that day.

Excerpt of John Lewis' Speech delivered at the March on Washington

We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here, for they are receiving starvation wages or no wages at all. While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars a day, 12 hours a day. While we stand here, there are students in jail on trumped-up charges…

We come here today with a great sense of misgiving. It is true that we support the administration's Civil Rights Bill. We support it with great reservation, however. Unless title three is put in this bill, there's nothing to protect the young children and old women who must face police dogs and fire hoses in the South while they engage in peaceful demonstration...

My friends let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution. By and large, American politics is dominated by politicians who build their career on immoral compromise and allow themselves an open forum of political, economic and social exploitation dominate American politics.

There are exceptions, of course. We salute those. But what political leader can stand up and say, ‘My party is a party of principles’? For the party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets of Birmingham? Where is the political party that will protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia?...

To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually but we want to be free now...

…I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until a revolution is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. In the Delta of Mississippi, in Southwest Georgia, in the Black Belt of Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation the black masses are on a march for jobs and freedom.

They're talking about slow down and stop. We will not stop…If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our march into Washington. We will march through the South, through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham. But we will march with the spirit of love and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today.

By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall send a desegregated South into a thousand pieces, put them together in the image of God and Democracy. We must say wake up America, wake up! For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient.

Details

John Lewis, Speech delivered at the March on Washington, 28 August 1963. Audio recording of the speech is available online.

…In good conscience, we cannot support the administration's civil rights bill; for it is too little, and too late…

Moreover, we have learned—and you—should know—since we are here for Jobs and Freedom—that within the past ten days a spokesman for the Administration appeared in a secret session before the committee that's writing the civil-rights bill and opposed and has almost killed a provision that would have guaranteed in voting suits, for the first time, a fair federal district judge. And, I might add, this Administration's bill or any other civil rights bill—as the 1960 civil-rights act—will be totally worthless when administered by racist judges, many of whom have been consistently appointed by President Kennedy.

I want to know, which side is the Federal Government on?

The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery...To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait’, we must say that, ‘Patience is a dirty and nasty word’. We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence…

The revolution is a serious one, Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the street and put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, Listen Mr. Congressmen, Listen fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a ‘cooling-off’ period…

…We will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground—non-violently…We will make the action of the past few months look petty…

Details

John Lewis, Cut portions of original speech prepared for the March on Washington, 28 August 1963.

John Lewis speech: Discussion Questions

  1. Primary Document Review: Who wrote this speech? When was it delivered?
  2. Who was the intended audience(s) for this speech? How do you think this might have influenced its content and/or tone?
  3. John Lewis's speech was considered controversial, even without the lines that were cut. Consider the message(s) he conveys in the speech. Have one member of your group describe in his/her own words the overall message John Lewis conveyed in the speech he delivered at the March on Washington. Have another member of your group describe the message conveyed by the portion of his speech that was cut. Have a third member of your group describe how the messages differed. (If your group doesn't find a significant difference between them, discuss why you think individuals at the time did perceive a difference and saw Lewis' speech as controversial.)
  4. How does John Lewis use analogy, language, and tone to make his point? What are some specific examples of this?
  5. What, if anything, strikes you in particular in John Lewis' speech? How does the tone and/or message differ from MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech?
  6. John Lewis was pressured by various leaders, including some of those organizing the March, to make changes to his speech or risk being cut from the program. (They were particularly concerned about the analogy he made to General Sherman's march through the South in the Civil War, in which Sherman and his troops burned down Atlanta.) With this in mind, do you think he should have cut the lines that he cut? Why or why not?
  • How, if at all, does this interview affect your understanding of Lewis' speech?

    Analysis

    After you examine all of the sources in this Document Study answer the following questions:

    1. Civil Rights activists used many different tactics to effect change. What are the various ways you think a march can impact a movement? What do you think was effective and/or not effective about the March on Washington, from what you've learned thus far?
    2. Using all the evidence provided by the documents you examined and your discussion so far, make a list of the goals/purposes of the March on Washington reflected in these documents. (There were other central goals, such as advocating for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, that are not reflected in your packet.)
    3. How might some of these goals be competing? How do you think the organizers of the March might have dealt with the fact that there were several agendas for the event?

    What role did religion play in speeches at the March on Washington?

    What role did religion play in speeches at the March on Washington?

    "I Have a Dream..." Talmud Page

    "I Have a Dream..." Talmud Page
    Full image
    The “I Have a Dream” Talmud page and the accompanying study guide were prepared by Hillel’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning Director Rabbi Avi Weinstein for the 2001 Charlotte and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai B'rith Hillel Forum on Public Policy. Used with permission of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, hillel.org.
    This version of the Talmud Page is optimized for printing on 11" x 17" paper. Original at www.hillel.org/jewish/textstudies/special/mlk.htm

    Related content:

    Discussion Questions - Description

    1. Review: Who wrote and delivered the "I Have a Dream" speech? When?
    2. Who was the intended audience for this speech? How do you think this might have influenced the content and tone of this speech?
    3. Read the text on the center of the page (the original speech) out loud in your group. Based only on this text, and not on other things you've heard about this speech, describe in your own words, what is Martin Luther King's dream?
    4. It's not surprising that King, a minister, used biblical references in his speech. Many of his listeners may have been aware of these references, but others may not have been aware of the literary complexities of this speech. Which, if any, of these references are familiar to you? What associations do you have with them?
    5. On the "I Have a Dream" Talmud page, some of the references have been highlighted and explained. Choose 3 of the highlighted phrases and read the commentary in the margin.
    6. How, if at all, do you interpret or think about this speech differently looking at it today in a Jewish context?

    Optional

    To further explore the "I Have a Dream…" Talmud Page, use the study guide found at www.hillel.org/NR/rdonlyres/743F812F-0F35-4C72-9268-0A6A4EADF305/0/MLK_Navigator.pdf.

    Rabbi Joachim Prinz speech at the March on Washington

    Full image
    Click "About this clip" to read transcript. Retrieved from http://www.joachimprinz.com/civilrights.htm. Permission to use granted by Jonathan Prinz.

    Discussion Questions - Description

    1. African Americans can be seen as having a "hyphenated identity" (black and American—an identity that combines race and nationality). Consider what hyphenated group Rabbi Prinz is speaking as a member of. How does he make it clear that this group is hyphenated?
    2. According to Rabbi Prinz, why do Jews identify with African Americans?
    3. How does Rabbi Prinz connect the Civil Rights Movement to the Holocaust?
    4. What does Rabbi Prinz believe is the "most urgent problem" facing America?
    5. What does he see as the solution to this problem?

    Analysis

    After you examine all of the documents in your packet answer the following questions:

    1. How was the Bible, a text held to be sacred by Jews and Christians alike, used in the speeches given at the March on Washington? How might this have unified and created bonds between diverse marchers? What other effects might this have had?
    2. Several Jewish leaders were an official presence at the March on Washington. Jewish leadership represented on the platform included Shad Polier of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Leon Foyer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, George Maislan of the United Synagogue of America, Rabbi Joachim Prinz of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Uri Miller of the Synagogue Council of America. Why might these individuals have felt it was important to be there? Why did the organizers of the March feel it was important to include Jewish leadership? What significance do you think the public presence of Jewish leaders might have had on participants and those viewing/listening at home?
    3. While Rabbi Joachim Prinz seems to have had a message for Jewish participants, how do you think his message may have been received by non-Jewish participants?
    4. Do you ever feel hyphenated (part of a group with two identities)? Share some of your hyphenated identities with one another. Consider: When do you identify more strongly with the Jewish part of your identity? When do you identify more strongly with the American (or other) part of your identity? When do you identify more strongly with another part of your identity (besides Jewish or American)? What causes might you support as a Jew? What causes might you support as an American? What causes might you support as an…[insert another part of your identity here]?

    Who participated in the March on Washington?

    Who participated in the March on Washington?

    Central Conference of American Rabbis at the March on Washington

    Central Conference of American Rabbis at the March on Washington
    Full image
    Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3487, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

    Central Conference of American Rabbis photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the signs they are carrying, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What do the signs they are carrying suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Based on what you know about this group, would you have expected them to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?

    National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington

    National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington
    Full image
    Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3488, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

    NFTY photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the National Federation of Temple Youth banner they are carrying, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What do the signs they are carrying suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Based on what you know about this group, would you have expected them to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?

    The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs at the March on Washington

    The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs
    Full image
    Photograph of the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs at the March on Washington, 1963. Courtesy of The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

    Emma Lazarus Federation Photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the banner they are in front of, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What does the banner behind them suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Would you have expected this type of group to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?
    6. How is this group the same as or different from the groups in the first two pictures you examined?
    7. How, if at all, does this photograph affect your understanding of the March on Washington?
    • Optional: Visit JWA's Women of Valor exhibit on Emma Lazarus to learn more about the namesake of the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs (ELF). Lazarus is the author of "The New Colossus," the poem on the Statue of Liberty that begins "Give me your tired, your poor…"
    • The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs, founded in the 1950's, fought anti-Semitism and racism while celebrating Jewish culture and striving to provide, "leadership to women in the Jewish communities in our time in the same spirit as Emma Lazarus did in hers." How does knowing more about Emma Lazarus and the ELF impact your understanding of the photograph?

      Analysis

      After you examine all of the documents in your packet answer the following questions:

      1. Based on the photographs you've examined, make a list of some of the people/groups who participated in the March on Washington. Include both general and specific categories. (Remember that while this packet focused on Jewish participation in the March on Washington, most of the participants were not Jewish.)
      2. Each of the photographs you examined featured a group marching under a Jewish banner. Why do you think these marchers chose to identify themselves as Jewish marchers? When might you want to march under a Jewish banner? When might you not want to march under a Jewish banner? What other banner might you want to march under?
      3. Having examined these photos, do you identify with any of the groups or individuals pictured? Imagine that you had gone to the March on Washington. How might you have participated?

      Traditional Jewish Texts

      Teacher Resources

      1963 March on Washington series, The Forum Network. Extensive live audio clips of the March on Washington broadcast by WGBH radio. Includes audio of Bayard Rustin listing the demands of the March.

      March on Washington section of the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website: http://www.crmvet.org/info/mowhome.htm. Includes scans of original documents such as instructions to groups attending, maps, and lists of demands, as well as personal reflections (see transcript of interview with Bruce Hartford, who talks about being Jewish earlier in the interview). Background information on the March can be found at: www.crmvet.org/tim/tim63b.htm#1963mow.

      March on Washington information from CORE: www.core-online.org/History/washington_march.htm

      "Behind the March on Washington," National Public Radio: www.npr.org/news/specials/march40th/part1.html

      Life Magazine, Civil Rights photographs from 1963 (including color images): http://www.life.com/search/?type=images&q0=civil%20rights%201963&lifxciv=1

      Website about Rabbi Joachim Prinz: http://www.joachimprinz.com/

      National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington
      Full image
      Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3488, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

      How to cite this page

      Jewish Women's Archive. "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." (Viewed on August 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/march-on-washington-for-jobs-and-freedom>.

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