A Lesson from the March on Washington

National Archives, Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306 (ARC ID 542044)

As carried by Parade on August 27, 2013

By Hedrick Smith

From the Lincoln Memorial, a great mass of humanity stretched away toward the spire of the Washington Monument. The March on Washington, 200,000 strong, was the largest protest army ever seen up to that time in the nation’s capital—a movement with historic impact and a message for us today, 50 years later.

The mood of that throng, as I mingled among them, was a surprise. People were determined, but not angry. They had come, yes, to protest against racial and economic discrimination, but also to celebrate. They had come to stake their claim to American democracy and to test whether People Power could move a Congress and a President to expand the boundaries of freedom in America.

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