What We Know About the March on Washington
- Using a computer and computer projector, access "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" and project it onto the screen.
- 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.
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.
- 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.)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "What We Know About the March on Washington." (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/node/11926>.