Beyond The Speech

Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech has been immortalized.  However, there were policy demands that came with that speech and for which the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was intended to draw attention. Policy and policy making can be complex, but King understood its importance as well as the importance of collaboration.  A collective of leaders and organizations planned the March on Washington and developed its 10 demands, including organizations like the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) as well as a Black labor organizing group, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (which was founded by A. Philip Randolph–you may know a school carrying his name).

Read the demands below and reflect on what they have in common with the other movements of the time; what is different between these demands and specific demands of other groups?

The 10 Demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

  1. Comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress — without compromise or filibuster — to guarantee all Americans:
    • Access to all public accommodations
    • Decent housing
    • Adequate and integrated education
    • The right to vote
  2. Withholding of Federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists.
  3. Desegregation of all school districts in 1963.
  4. Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment [for equal representation] — reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disenfranchised.
  5. A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds.
  6. Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any Constitutional right is violated.
  7. A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers — Negro and white — on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.
  8. A national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living. (Government surveys show that anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this.)
  9. A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.
  10. A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, and by employers, contractors, employment agencies, and trade unions.