9 Forgotten Quotes from the March on Washington

MOW_monument.pngDr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” from 1963 means so much to us as a nation that we almost forget he was notthe only speaker at the March on Washington.

Today, on the 51st anniversary of the March on Washington, we're taking a look back at its lesser-known speeches. From the events in Ferguson to ongoing battles for higher wages and equal education, these words from our nation’s most iconic civil rights march speak to the work that remains to be done today.


A. Philip Randolph – Founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car porters and visionary director of the March on Washington:

  • “Look for the enemies of Medicare, of higher minimum wages, of Social Security, of federal aid to education and there you will find the enemy of the Negro, the coalition of Dixiecrats and reactionary Republicans that seek to dominate the Congress.”

  • “Those who deplore our militants, who exhort patience in the name of a false peace, are in fact supporting segregation and exploitation. They would have social peace at the expense of social and racial justice. They are more concerned with easing racial tension than enforcing racial democracy.”

Walter Reuther, President of United Auto Workers:

  • “And one of the problems is what I call is there is too much high-octane hypocrisy in America. There is a lot of noble talk about brotherhood and then some Americans drop the brother and keep the hood.”

  • “Let us understand that we cannot defend freedom in Berlin so long as we deny freedom in Birmingham.”

Whitney Young, Director of the National Urban League:

  • “How serious our national leaders are will be measured not by words but by the speed and sincerity with which they pass necessary legislation, with which they admit to the tragic injustice that has been done our country and its Negro citizens by historic discrimination and rejection and until they take intensive remedial steps to correct the damage in order to give true meaning to the words ‘equal opportunity.’”

Floyd McKissick, reading a speech written by James Farmer while he was imprisoned in Louisiana for peaceful protest:

  • “The tear gas and the electric cattle prods of Plaquemine, Louisiana like the fire hoses and dogs of Birmingham are giving to the world a tired and ugly message of terror and brutality and hate.”

Rep. John Lewis, then 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC):

  • “We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again. And then you holler, ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now.”

  • “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.”

  • “Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?”

Watch Full Rep. John Lewis' Speech below or click here:

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