March On!

The March On! Timeline was created as a resource for the School Day Live production of March On! in 2018. The timeline is an asset to teaching and learning about the events that led to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and the people involved in the organization of the March. The timeline is shaped around a central question: Why do people march?

History of the March: The March on Washington was first proposed in 1941, but didn’t happen until 1963. In this section, learn about the events that led to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Leaders of the March: The march brought over 250,000 people together. Meet the various people and organizations that helped organize the event. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Artists at the March: Several artists attended and performed at the march. Listen to their music and hear how their art became a form of activism.;xNLx;;xNLx;Music in March On!: The performance you will see is full of freedom songs, folk, and soul music. Listen to the songs and explore the histories behind them.;xNLx;;xNLx;Why We March: Throughout the world people have marched to protest unjust and unequal protection of law. Here are a few examples of those marches beginning with the March on Washington in 1963 and ending with the Women’s March in 2017.

1941-06-09 11:56:20

March on Washington (1941)

June 1941—A. Philip Randolph proposed a March on Washington. The march would pressure the government to pass a law ending racial discrimination in the work force and army. Over 100,000 people were expected to attend. When President Roosevelt heard about the march, he signed the requested law prohibiting discrimination in the work force. The march was canceled.

1941-06-12 11:56:20

A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph was born on April 15, 1889. Throughout his life Randolph advocated for the rights of Black workers and the integration of workforces. In 1937, he founded the first African-American labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He was one of the lead organizers for the March on Washington and also represented the Negro American Labor Council.

1941-12-07 11:56:20

The U.S. Enters World War II

December 7, 1941—Japan bombed a U.S. naval base, Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. The next day U.S. declared war on Japan, entering World War II.

1942-02-01 11:56:20

Japanese Internment Camps

February 1942—Two months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order moving Americans with Japanese ancestry to internment camps.

1942-03-23 06:49:07

James Farmer

James Farmer was born January 12, 1920 in Marshall, Texas. As a young activist, Farmer studied Mahatma Gandhi’s practices of nonviolence. He used Gandhi’s teachings in his activism and helped found the Congress of Racial Equity (CORE) in 1942. There he served as president and led the organization’s Freedom Rides. Farmer represented CORE and was one of the chairmen of the march.

1942-03-23 06:49:07

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

March 1942—An interracial group of students, including James Farmer, founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Members of CORE enacted the Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate transportation. They also developed campaigns to increase the registration of Black voters in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. In 1963, CORE served as a co-sponsor of the March on Washington. Today, CORE continues to fight for justice by helping form and enforce legislation that supports marginalized communities.

1942-08-04 06:49:07

Bracero Program

August 4, 1942—The federal government launched the Bracero Program. The Program filled the shortage of laborers caused by the war, by temporarily hiring Mexican immigrants.

1945-09-02 06:49:07

World War II Ends

September 2, 1945—The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Japan surrendered; World War II ended.

1945-10-22 01:17:40

The Charleston Cigar Factory Strike

October 22, 1945—More than one thousand workers walked out of the Cigar Factory in Charleston, South Carolina. The workers, predominantly Black women, demanded the factory to increase wages, end discriminatory hiring and firing practices, and add paid medical benefits. Throughout the strike Lucille Simmons, a factory worker, rallied support by singing the spiritual “We Will Overcome.” While singing, she changed the lyrics into what we know today as, “We Shall Overcome.”

1945-10-27 10:16:13

We Shall Overcome

"We shall all be free We shall all be free We shall all be free some day Oh, deep in my heart I do believe We shall overcome some day."

1945-10-28 05:08:56

Joan Baez

Joan Baez uses her roots in folk music to protest wars and speak against racial discrimination. Her songs also offer a sense of peace and hope. In 1963, she sung “We Shall Overcome” at the March on Washington. She also sung “The Times They Are A-Changin” and “When the Ship Comes In” with Bob Dylan and joined a group of artists to sing “Eyes on the Prize”.

1946-09-03 19:17:00

Walter Reuther

Walter Reuther was born September 1, 1907. When Reuther joined the labor force, he advocated for the rights of all-workers, and was fired for creating unions. His continued efforts led him to become the President of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) from 1946 until his death in 1970. In 1963, he served as a chairmen for the March on Washington, representing the United Automobile Workers.

1947-04-09 19:17:00

Journey of Reconciliation

April 9, 1947—Sixteen members of CORE, including Bayard Rustin, led the first Freedom Rides. The Freedom Rides challenged segregation laws in inter-state travel. Shortly after beginning their trip, mobs of white citizens violently harassed them. They did not finish the journey.

1947-04-10 19:17:00

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. He helped lead many movements in the 60s, including the 1941 March on Washington, Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Rustin was instrumental in organizing many of the marches during the Civil Rights Movement, and he learned from his mentor A. Philip Randolph.

1947-04-15 19:17:00

Jackie Robinson signs with the Dodgers

April 15, 1947—Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He pioneered the movement to integrate professional athletics in the United States.

1947-06-09 05:57:59

Whitney M. Young Jr.

Whitney M. Young Jr. was born July 31, 1921, with a gift for connecting different people together. After graduating college he served in World War II. He often found himself mediating conflict between white and black servicemen. He used the same skills when advocating for civil rights as the Executive Director of the National Urban League. Whitney served as one of the chairmen of the March on Washington and represented the National Urban League.

1950-06-09 11:56:20

“Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round”

Aint gonna let nobody turn me around I’m gonna keep on a-walking, keep on a-talking, marching up to freedom land

1954-05-17 12:57:32

Brown v. Board of Education

May 17, 1954—The Supreme Court ruled separate facilities are inherently unequal. The decision called for the end of segregated public schools. However, the ruling did not outline a plan for preventing segregation within schools.

1955-03-02 12:57:32

15-year-old, Claudette Colvin

March 2, 1955—At 15-years-old, Claudette Colvin challenged the Montgomery Bus segregation laws. She refused to give up her seat after a bus driver commanded her to.

1955-04-12 12:57:32

Henrietta Lacks and Her Immortal Cells

April 12, 1955—Doctors used Henrietta Lacks’ cells to create a vaccine for Polio. Henrietta Lacks died from cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins University. Months after her death, her cells continued to reproduce in petri dishes. Doctors called them the first “immortal cells.” Since that discovery, doctors have used Lacks’ cells—HeLa cells—to do research.

1955-06-09 11:56:20

“Strange Fruit”

Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root, black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze

1955-08-28 12:57:32

The Legacy of Emmett Till

August 28, 1955—Emmett Till was 14-years-old when a store clerk accused him of making lewd comments and sexual advances towards her. Three days after the allegations, Till was kidnapped by the clerk’s husband and brother. Till’s deformed and beaten body was discovered four days later in the Tallahatchie River. His mother, Mamie Bradley, had an open casket at Till’s funeral to let everyone know what happened to her son.

1955-08-30 07:52:11

Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins was a journalist and activist who used his words and talents to advocate for civil rights. He was born on August 30, 1901 and grew up in a small integrated town in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1934, Wilkins served as the editor of the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. Later, he became the executive secretary of the NAACP. Wilkins helped push the Civil Rights Acts of the 50’s and 60’s through Congress and helped coordinate several marches alongside A. Philip Randolph, such as the March on Washington. He represented the NAACP and served as a chairmen of the March on Washington.

1955-12-05 07:52:11

Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 1, 1955—Rosa Parks helped to initiate the Montgomery Bus Boycotts by refusing to move from her seat on a segregated bus. Her action led to nationwide bus boycotts. A year later, the Montgomery federal court declared racially segregated seating on buses unconstitutional. On December 20, 1956, Montgomery buses were integrated and the next day the boycott ended.

1955-12-06 07:52:11

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. As a child, Rosa Parks attended segregated schools. She watched white students get bused to a new school outside of the city while she and her friends went to a one-room school building that often lacked supplies. Despite this, Parks graduated from high school. She joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943 and served as the youth leader and secretary. She went on to incite the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.

1956-01-06 07:52:11

If I Had a Hammer

If I had a hammer I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land

1956-01-07 07:52:11

Peter, Paul, and Mary

Peter, Paul, and Mary was a folk singing group. They used their lyrics and acoustic rhythms to sing for justice. Through their music, they’ve picketed with farmers in California protesting better work conditions and protested in D.C. for racial and employment justice. At the March on Washington they sang Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.”

1956-01-10 07:52:11

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

January 11, 1957—The Montgomery Bus Boycott incited bus boycotts throughout the South. Southern leaders met in Atlanta to coordinate plans for further protests and activities. This led to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as the president and Dr. Ralph Abernathy was its Financial Secretary-Treasurer.

1956-01-12 07:52:11

Dr. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil-rights leader. He was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1957, he helped found the SCLC and continued to serve as its president. His speeches and activism inspired others to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, at the March on Washington, King delivered his iconic speech, "I Have a Dream."

1957-01-13 07:52:11

Ralph Abernathy

A civil rights leader and pastor, Ralph Abernathy was born on March 11, 1926 in Linden, Alabama. While in college, Abernathy led several protests advocating for better lunch food and better treatment of students. Abernathy continued to become a minster and later, met Dr. King. The two helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, co-founded the SCLC, and went on to co-pastor a church. In 1989, he published his memoir titled "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography. "

1957-09-09 11:47:19

Civil Rights Act of 1957

September 9, 1957—President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The Civil Rights Act allowed lawyers to prosecute those whose actions interfered with people’s voting rights. It also created a commission that would investigate racial discriminatory practices and recommend corrective measures.

1957-09-25 16:33:41

Little Rock Nine, Elizabeth Eckford

September 25, 1957—The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine Black students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The governor of Arkansas, however, had state army troops bar the Nine from entering the school. On September 25, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to escort the students into the school.

1957-09-26 07:52:11

Daisy Bates

Daisy Bates was born November 11, 1914. Her activism started with her writing and continued as she served various political organizations. She was a writer and co-founder of the Arkansas State Press, worked in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration, and was the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP. Bates also mentored the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas and served in Central High’s Parent Association.

1957-09-28 04:49:20

Negro Women Freedom Fighters

During the March on Washington Daisy Bates spoke on behalf of the “Negro Women Freedom Fighters.” The group consisted of members such as Dorothy Heights, Mrs. Medgar Evers, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

1957-12-21 11:47:19

Harlem Nine: Mae Mallory

July 1957—Mae Mallory and eight other parents successfully sued the Board of Education. They claimed the schools did not provide suitable resources for Black students and homeschooled their children in protest.

1958-01-20 22:22:53

Rabbi Joachim Prinz

Joachim Prinz was born May 10, 1902, in Burkhardsdorf, Upper Silesia. He lived in Germany until 1937. Then he moved to New York and served as the president of the American Jewish Congress from 1958 – 1966. While in the States, Prinz found similarities between his experiences as a Jew in Germany and that of Black people in the U.S. Rabbi Prinz served as a chairmen of the March on Washington, representing the American Jewish Congress.

1960-02-01 11:47:19

College Student Sit-Ins

February 1, 1960—Four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina sat at a whites-only lunch counter and patiently waited to be served. Their actions inspired other college students around the country to "sit-in" at public lunch counters as a way of protesting segregation.

1960-04-01 11:47:19

Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee

April 1960—Ella Baker, an activist and NAACP Director of Branches, organized a meeting with students leading the sit-ins and Dr. King. The meeting led to the development of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC would go on to organize voting registration campaigns, develop freedom schools, and continue sit-ins garnering national attention for their movement.

1960-06-01 11:47:19

Diane Nash Bevel

Diane Nash was born May 15, 1938. She co-founded the SNCC and advocated for civil rights by participating in freedom rides and sit-ins. In 1963, she helped the campaign to de-segregate Birmingham. Two years later, she contributed to Selma's voting rights campaign. Nash has protested the Vietnam war, worked in education and housing developments, and advocates for the rights of women.

1960-06-09 11:56:20

Mahalia Jackson

The Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, was born October 26, 1911 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jackson grew up in the church and started singing in the choir when she was four. She often used her talents and success to serve the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, she sang for the Montgomery Bus Boycott and in 1963 for the March on Washington.

1960-07-23 11:47:19

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is a singer, actor, and activist. On Tuesday July 23, 1963, Dr. King asked Belafonte to gather artists and popular icons to attend the March on Washington. Belafonte gladly accepted the task! Planes from New York and California flew into D.C. with celebrities like Sidney Poitier and James Baldwin.

1961-05-04 05:24:36

Freedom Rides

May 14, 1961—The Congress of Racial Equality embarked on another Freedom Rides to challenge segregation laws and gather attention for the Civil Rights Movement.

1961-05-06 00:06:21

John Lewis

John Lewis was born to a family of sharecroppers on February 24, 1940, in Troy, Alabama. While a student at Fisk University, he helped organize sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and joined the SNCC Freedom Rides. At the age of 23, Lewis served as a chairmen of the March on Washington and represented SNCC. He was the youngest leader to speak at the event. In 1986, Lewis was elected into Congress and continues to serve as a Representative today.

1961-10-16 00:06:21

SNCC Freedom Singers

October 1962—Cornell Reagon, Ruth Harris, Charles Neblett, and Bernice Johnson Reagon used singing as a form of protest. In 1962, they formed the SNCC Freedom Singers. The group of young singers traveled the United States singing spirituals and freedom songs. The Freedom Singers also sang “We Shall Overcome” at the March on Washington.

1962-06-18 03:56:57

Mathew Ahmann

Mathew Ahmann was born September 10, 1931. He was intent on having Catholic believers challenge segregation, so he founded the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice. In January 1963, Ahmann organized the National Conference on Religion and Race. The Conference gathered 657 people from 78 varying denominations and churches to discuss race, religion, and the role each individual has in the civil rights movement. He represented National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice and served as a chairmen for the March on Washington.

1962-07-01 09:24:05

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was born May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. Dylan’s musical style transformed the genre of rock & roll. After the murder of Medgar Evers, Dylan wrote the song “Only a Pawn in Their Game.” At the March, Dylan performed “The Times They Are A-Changin” and “When the Ship Comes In” with Joan Baez. And he sung, “Only A Pawn in Their Game,” as a solo. In 2017, Dylan continues to perform and inspire generations of musicians and listeners.

1962-07-09 09:24:05

Blowin in the Wind

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?

1962-07-20 09:24:05

"A Change is Gonna Come"

I was born by the river in a little tent, oh and just like the river I've been running ev'r since, it's been a long time, a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come

1962-08-02 11:47:19

Benefit Concert at the Apollo Theater

August 11, 1962—The United States National Student Association and Progressive Talent produced a benefit concert at the Apollo Theater. The funds raised helped bailout students arrested for protesting segregation. Thelonious Monk, jazz musician and composer, was one of many artist to perform at the concert.

1962-08-31 11:56:20

Fannie Lou Hamer: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”

August 31, 1962—Fannie Lou Hamer testified at the Democratic National Convention about the conditions she endured as a sharecropper and a citizen wanting to vote. Earlier that year, she and other citizens were arrested in Winona, Mississippi. While imprisoned, officers had another inmate brutally beat Hamer, severely damaging her eyes, legs, and kidney.

March On!

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