In the summer of 1963 more than 200,000 demonstrators descended on the nation's capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The event was highlighted by Martin Luther King's memorable "I Have A Dream" speech and pressured the Kennedy administration into initiating a strong federal civil rights bill.
Now Leon Litwack, a leading scholar on slavery, Reconstruction, and the fight for civil rights, discusses the enduring impact of that gathering in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
The March on Washington was not universally embraced. It was condemned by the Nation of Islam and the executive board of the AFL-CIO declined to support the march, adopting a position of neutrality.
Nevertheless, the diversity of those in attendance was reﬂected in the event's speakers and performers: singers Marian Anderson, Odetta, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan; Little Rock civil rights veteran Daisy Lee Bates; actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress; UAW president Walter Reuther; NAACP president Roy Wilkins; National Urban League president Whitney Young, and SNCC leader John Lewis.
Among Litwack's books are Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860, and Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow.
Litwack's presentation is the keynote address of the 2013 Richard D. McKinzie Research Symposium, funded bythe Bernardin Haskell Lecture Fund and co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library, the UMKC Department of History, and the Organization of American Historians.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.