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Have the Demands of the March on Washington Been Met?

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This August marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While perhaps the most celebrated aspect of the March is Martin Luther King Jr.’s poetic cry for freedom, dignity and unity, the march’s organizers also had very concrete political demands that were as much about economic justice as racial equality.

In this Group Think, we ask: Have the demands of the March on Washington been met? How far have we come — and what remains to be done?

Click here to hear Bayard Rustin, the deputy director of the March, presenting the demands from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or read the list of demands as printed in the event’s program below:

The 10 Demands of the March on Washington

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 — reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised.

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.


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