by Patrick Henry Bass
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, held in the nation's capital on August 28, 1963, is recognized as a watershed moment in American history. It was epochal; one of the most significant events of the 20th century. The New York Times called the March "the greatest assembly ever seen." No public event before or since has had the social, cultural or political impact of The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Although the civil rights movement was at full-throttle in 1963, many Americans were distracted by the homespun humor of The Andy Griffith Show and the whimsy of My Favorite Martian on television; entranced by Lesley Gore's "It's My Party" and The Beatles "She Loves You" on the radio; and entertained by the fantasy of Jason and the Argonauts and Alfred Hitchcock's improbable thriller "The Birds" at the drive-in.
On August 28, 1963, the world focused its attention to the nation's capital, where more than 250,000 Americans gathered-black and white; young and old, privileged and poor, and from every region of the country to show their support for the passage of an historic civil rights bill that would end legal segregation in America.
Like A Mighty Stream: The March on Washington, August 28, 1963 (Running Press; Hardcover; November 1, 2002; $18.95; 0-7624-1292-5) is a retrospective illumination of the events that led to the March. The book zeroes in on the leaders who made it happen, and explores the impact it had on the people who attended. It illuminates one of the most intense moments of the Civil Rights Movement.
In anticipation of the March's 40th anniversary next year, author and journalist Patrik Henry Bass integrates the remembrances of everyday and extraordinary Americans who attended, including NPR correspondent Vertamae Grosvenor, Georgia representative Nan Grogan Orrock, and 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley, Jr. Their memories of the day widely differ. Some recall the day as one of the hottest of their lives; others thought it was a mild summer day. There are varying accounts of how many people attended, and there are differences about the progress that was has been made four decades later. Where they agree is that this was one of the greatest days in American history: an unparalleled celebration of humanity and hope.
Included in the book are 14 photos-some never before seen. This is a must-have for anyone interested in American history, or in learning about the power of nonviolent protest to effect social change.
Hardcover: 157 pages